Montgomery County, TN – At a recent County Commissioners Meeting, Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett offered the first few minutes of podium time to Billy McCraw, a local farmer who was informed at a meeting held just days prior at Rossview Middle School, that he was about to lose his house and part of his strawberry farm to the Rossview Road widening project.
76-year-old Billy McCraw spoke calmly to Mayor Durrett, County Commissioners, and a galley filled with his supporters, some of whom held signs.
McCraw refers to the shocking way he was informed, at a Rossview Road Preliminary Design Public Meeting held by the Montgomery County Government Engineering team on March 29th. And says it’s not necessary to take his land because land directly across the street is completely undeveloped, there’s no house, no out-buildings, not even a fence along the roadside.
“Friday, I received a call saying that it is necessary,” McCraw said. “They said, ‘we are going to take your house. We’re going to take a large oak tree in your front yard that’s 150 years old, We’re going to take 1,500 feet of white fence that leads down to your strawberry ranch. And, we’re going to take the office where you sell your strawberries.
“But, all of this is unnecessary. All they have to do is go across the road from where we live. There are no houses, no buildings there is nothing over there. Clarksville Gas and Water has started running the gas lines, but that line is 85 feet from the center of the existing road.”
McCraw maintained his composure as he stated his objection to the proposal, and offered what seems to be a more reasonable, less costly alternative.
McCraw continued, “people [Commissioners], y’all have the power tonight to stop this. They will be coming before you for rezoning of that property. I ask that you not let them rezone their property until they agree to put all of Rossview Road on their property.
“We’ve had thousands of people calling us, in support. Supporters have also been calling county offices to let them know how they feel. They’ve also called television stations in Nashville, and the environmental people, to let them know.”
McCraw ended his three minutes with a simple plea.
“I want to ask you,” McCraw said. “Please, don’t let them take our farm. We have been there for a long time. That’s all I have to say.”
McCraw then turned to the galley, packed with supporters, and asked, “if you’re here tonight to support us, would you please stand?” Almost everyone in the chamber stood. “Mayor Durrett, I thank You.”
Many stood to greet McCraw as he walked away, offering words of support. The crowd continued to applaud for nearly a minute.