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Effort to improve a south Grady subdivision is off to a rocky start

A south Grady County property owner says the county is not going far enough with a grant program to resurface roads and improve drainage in a low to moderate income neighborhood off Georgia Highway 93 South.
Richard Kuhne attended a public hearing on the proposed activities included in the county’s Community Development Block Grant for Lewis Estates Street and Drainage Improvements.
Kuhne, a resident of Lewis Estates, told commissioners this week the section of Lewis Lane the county is not looking to improve is the worst section of road in the subdivision.
“We’re not saying we want it paved. We just want it improved where emergency vehicles could get down there without getting stuck,” Kuhne said.
The Lewis Estates resident said that the lower part of the road is a mix of red clay and white clay that becomes ultra slick when wet.
He said that residents in Lewis Estates demand to receive the general county services they pay taxes for.
Kuhne praised Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar for initiating the application for the grant.
“He is trying to better the community, but this doesn’t go far enough. We need to address this issue in back,” Kuhne said.
Commission Chairman T.D. David asked if this was a separate issue from the CDBG award.
County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley told commissioners that Kuhne was asking for the county to improve property it does not own. He said that any time a road is paved or improved by the county, the board must have title to the property where the road is situated.
Cauley also reminded that Kuhne had threatened to take legal action against the county previously, so he recommended not discussing the matter with him any further.
Kuhne said he would prefer to resolve the issue “peacefully,” but he said, “It looks like we’ll have to go to court on it.”
Chairman David had to ask for Kuhne to stop talking and a sheriff’s deputy escorted him to the door of the chamber.
Tobar said that the lower section of Lewis Lane was not part of the grant program.
Commissioner Charles Norton asked Tobar if he had found evidence of the county having ownership on Yancey Drive and Walt Drive.
“I have 200 more records to review” Tobar said, but as of Tuesday, he had not found  a record of county ownership and there is only $10,000 in the grant for property acquisition.
Cauley explained to commissioners he had not been involved in the process of identifying if the county has title to the necessary land to improve all of the roads included in the grant. “Carlos has been doing that research,” the attorney said.
According to Tobar, he has found title to a section of Walt Drive and Jamie Lane, but he is still trying to find information on the remainder of Walt and on Yancey Drive.
The county was awarded $489,167 in August to fund the street and drainage improvements. According to Tobar, 96 residents are impacted and 86 of those are low to moderate income people.
Vice Chairman LaFaye Copeland asked Tobar what happens if he cannot find ownership of the right-of-way, and Tobar insisted he still has some time to find that proof.
County commissioners in April told Tobar they would not go forward with the project unless the necessary right-of-way was donated, otherwise the consensus of the board in the spring was to send the grant money back.
Tobar has also said that all of the work can be funded entirely with the grant funds and no county money would be required.
On Tuesday, the board also heard a drainage complaint from Olen Sampson, 121 Ledford Road. According to Sampson, water is coming out of the ditch and running down the road before dropping back down into the ditch. He said the problem is a result of the pitch of the road and clogging of a culvert underneath the road.
Commissioner Charles Norton requested that Road Superintendent Stanley Maxwell look into the problem and make any necessary improvements.

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