HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn. — A group of farmers in Haywood County say they are ready to go to court to get a “fair deal” for their land from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

At issue is a proposed roadway connecting Interstate 40 to Ford’s Blue Oval City in Haywood County, and whether TDOT is paying an equitable price for land in the pathway of the project.

Haywood County farmer Marvin Sanderlin said he supports Ford’s multi-billion dollar BlueOval City, which will manufacture Ford’s new all-electric F-150 truck and electric batteries.

“You see what we drive? We driving a Ford. That’s all we drive is Ford,” Sanderlin said. “We have nothing against Ford. We just want to be treated fair, that’s all.”

However, he and other primarily African American landowners have taken issue with TDOT as the agency moves to acquire land for a proposed access road from I-40 to the BlueOval campus.

“The group feel the same way I feel. That we getting the short end of the stick, that we are getting just ran over,” Sanderlin said.

Sanderlin said TDOT is either filing eminent domain lawsuits or what he calls “low balling” offers for land it wants for the roadway, including 10 acres belonging to Sanderlin. He said they offered about $7,000 less per acre than in 2009.

“The state bought the land for the Megasite for $10,600 an acre,” he said.

Sanderlin said TDOT only wants two acres of his farmland for the road but will “landlock” the other eight acres, preventing him access to his land.

It’s an issue he says concerns other Black landowners in the path of TDOT’s project.

Concerns about TDOT’s project brought dozens Thursday night to a community meeting about a mile from BlueOval City.

Ray Jones said he stands to lose an acre of his land to TDOT under an eminent domain lawsuit but he finds no fault with Ford.

“You know, TDOT is the situation that we’re dealing with,” he said. “But we’re going to try and work through it, and hope that things can work out eventually.”

A spokesperson with TDOT told WREG, in part:

“While the department makes every effort to avoid private property when maintaining or building existing or future highways, TDOT may be required to make a formal request to purchase individual property for road projects for the best-engineered solution. TDOT follows federal and state law to maintain the standard process for purchasing property at fair market value based on third-party, independent appraisal reports.”