The county is preparing to take a landowner in the Belk Community to court for blocking a county road with a gate.
During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the county commission voted to file a lawsuit against the landowner, Grant Manning, seeking an injunction to keep him from having an obstruction (gate) across Sunset Drive which is located off Allen Bend Road in the Belk Community.
Last November, The county commission went on record to direct the Road Supervisor to take the necessary action to have the gate removed.
The gate was later taken down but it has been erected again.
Manning disputes the county’s claim that Sunset Drive is a county road and in an email response to WJLE last fall, Manning said the gate had been up for over four years and that he had maintained the road since 1990.
County Attorney Hilton Conger met with County Mayor Tim Stribling and the county commissioners in closed session last Thursday evening to give them legal advice about what to do in resolving this case going further. During Monday night’s meeting, Stribling said Conger gave three options; to do nothing and let the affected property owner deal with it himself by possibly filing a lawsuit against Manning; for the county to file a lawsuit seeking an injunction for Manning to remove the gate; or for the county to seek a declaratory judgment from the Chancery Court on whether Sunset Drive is a county road and if so the length and width of the road.
Sixth district commissioner Betty Atnip made a motion to exercise the second option for the county to seek a court ordered injunction against Manning. Second district commissioner Joe Johnson offered a second to the motion. Sixth district commissioner Jeff Barnes asked if another solution could be reached to avoid the county having to pay expensive legal fees over this issue. He said the other affected landowner, Bart Lay, has apparently agreed to help develop another road into the area and bypass Sunset Drive if the county would put down the gravel.
But Atnip and Johnson said such action would set a precedent the county might later regret. “Are we going to do that every time somebody blocks a county road? Build another one around it? I think we’d be setting a precedent here. I think we need to go (to court) even if it costs us a little money. We’ve got to stop blocking county roads,” said Johnson.
The county commission adopted Atnip’s motion to take Manning to Court.
In other business, the commission approved the re-appointment of Jane Hobson, Betty Pankey, and Jan Thomas to the DeKalb County Library Board of Trustees and Bobby White to the Regional Library Board. Each appointed term is for three years.
The commission adopted a continuing budget resolution to keep county government operating past July 1 until the new budget is adopted for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
A one year lease renewal was also approved for the Tennessee Opportunity Programs which operates out of one room at the county complex for $200 per month. The program seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farm workers and other disadvantaged persons to achieve economic self sufficiency by providing services that address their individual needs.
The commission will soon have to fill another judicial commissioner vacancy. County Mayor Stribling said Harvey Barnes has announced his resignation effective July 31. Barnes has served since his appointment last September. The judicial committee will review the applications still on file from the last time there was a vacancy and make a recommendation to the county commission. The opening will be re-advertised if necessary.