The county commission has rejected a proposal to close a portion of a county road in the Wolf Creek area.
During the regular monthly meeting Monday night (November 28), the commission defeated a motion to give conditional approval to close 1,085 feet of the end section of Taylor Lane. The measure failed with seven voting against. Five voted in favor and one member “passed”. First district commissioner Julie Young presented a petition signed by 175 people in opposition to closing this portion of the road.
Taylor Lane is six tenths of a mile long and located near the intersection of Wolf Creek Road and the Buffalo Valley Road-Medley Amonette Road.
A landowner on Taylor Lane, Andy Redus requested that the end section of the road be closed where he has a part time residence. Redus, who lives out of the county, told the county commission in a committee meeting on Tuesday night, November 22 that he wanted to install a gate to restrict access to his private property for public safety concerns. “My residence is not a full time residence. I have no way of telling what’s going on there all the time,” he said. Redus wants to keep out sightseers, trespassers, and litterers. He had already obtained permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an adjoining landowner, to erect the gate provided the Corps has access.
Janice Martin, who also has property on Taylor Lane, opposed the closure because an old cemetery is located on the road inside the area where Redus wanted to put the gate.
Although the cemetery has been there for over a century and is unkept with overgrowth Martin told the county commission during the Tuesday night committee meeting that the road should remain open for anyone who wants to visit there. “This road is not only to my (family) cemetery back there, there are other people in this county I have talked to who own businesses that have people buried in that cemetery. This is not just the two graves that you can see (stones showing) because the markers (of the other graves) are not there now. It’s a very old cemetery,” said Martin
The DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission held a public hearing in September where Martin voiced opposition but voted to recommend to the county commission that Redus’ request be approved subject to the right of access of visitors to the cemeteryand that a 35’ x 25’ hammerhead turnaround which meets with the approval of the Road Supervisor be developed at the expense of Redus.
Martin said Tuesday night that the turnaround is not large enough especially for emergency vehicles. “I am totally opposed to closing the road. Andy knew when he bought the property what he was buying. We own both sides of the road all the way back passed that area. I’m within 50 feet of the turnaround so I will have to use that turnaround on a daily basis. I took one of our hay wagons behind my vehicle back there and I could barely get turned around. It is very hard to do. I may also build another house within 50 feet of this property so I will have to have access to fire trucks, ambulances, or other emergency vehicles that would have to come in there. They would have to use this turnaround,” said Martin.
Redus claims the turnaround is large enough and provided pictures showing where he turned around there with a pickup truck pulling a sixteen foot trailer. Redus said he would provide a key to Corps officials for access to Corps property and make access available to others requesting entry to the cemetery by opening the gate himself remotely from his phone.
During Monday night’s meeting (November 28), County Commissioner Jack Barton made a motion to adopt the planning commission’s recommendation and grant Redus’ request to close 1,085 feet of Taylor Lane but he added further conditions including that the turnaround area be enlarged and for Redus to provide a key to Janice Martin for access to the cemetery. “I believe right now the turnaround is 25 feet into the hill side and 35 feet circular. (My motion) is to make it (turnaround) 30 feet in and to make the 35 feet be 60 feet. The second contingency would be to give Mr. and Mrs. Martin a key to access the cemetery like he (Redus) did the Corps,” said Barton.
Commissioner Julie Young voiced her opposition to Barton’s motion. “I would just like to put in the minutes that I passed out (a petition) with 175 signatures of first district and county residents (all but fifteen county residents) who are in opposition to the commission putting (authorizing) a gate being put across this road and denying access to a cemetery. Also in your folder you have an entity to itself (cemetery parcel) and a tax code. The tax papers of this cemetery. You also have the deed from Ms. Bethel W. Foster to Mary Helen Gill of this cemetery. I state an objection to Mr. Barton’s motion and I stand in full protest with these 175 signatures each of you have of a gate being put across a public county road on Taylor Lane,” said Young.
Commissioners voting to close this section of Taylor Lane were Jack Barton, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jonathan Norris, and Larry Summers. Those voting against it were Julie Young, Anita Puckett, Betty Atnip, Bradley Hendrix, Jeff Barnes, Jimmy Midget, and Wayne Cantrell. Jerry Adcock “passed” and Mason Carter was absent.