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A public hearing was held Tuesday night at the Grady County Courthouse concerning the potential abandonment of a portion of Asbell Lane and county commissioners heard from those on both side of the issue.
The county is contemplating abandoning a 1,200 foot by 60 foot wide section of the road, which according to county officials, was never maintained by the county and not until a potential sale of the property was discussed was it discovered that the property had been deeded to the county in 1995.
Gabe Ridley, attorney for the Grady County Commission, said the 1.62 acres was deeded to the county by Kenneth Hicks. Hicks had been in discussion to sell the property to a neighbor, David Dunn, earlier this year when Hicks discovered the issue.
According to Ridley, Hicks says that was never part of his agreement with the county for the remainder of the roadway which he did intend to deed to the county for a public road.
Ridley said if the board determines it is in the best interest of the public to abandon the section of the public road, it must be offered for sale to Hicks, and if a sale cannot be negotiated, the property would be put up for public auction.
“So, Mr. Hicks would have first right of refusal?” Chairman Keith Moye asked. “Yes,” Ridley responded.
Commissioner Ray Prince asked would the county have to have the property appraised before it could dispose of it and Ridley said not in this instance, due to the value being less than the $75,000 threshold.
Road Superintendent Stanley Elkins was recognized by the chairman and the superintendent concurred that in the 15-16 years he had been associated with the county, the road department had not maintained that portion of Asbell Lane.
Another neighbor, Tommy White voiced his opposition to it being abandoned and he told commissioners if it were to be sold, he likely would be interested in the opportunity to purchase it.
“I’m satisfied with the way it is now,” White said, but he said if he was at the mercy of a neighbor he could be prevented from having access to a county road.
Commissioner Phillip Drew said that no matter what the board decided, a recorded easement that provided White ingress and egress from his property would remain in effect.
“We couldn’t land lock you no matter what we did,” Commissioner Drew told White.
“I’m still against it,” White said.
Dunn told commissioners that the county had never maintained it and that it was not actually a public road but the drive to his property, which he mows to be able to get down the lane. He said he is planning to build a residence on the property and has no interest in developing the remainder of his acreage.
“No matter who buys it. The easement will always be there,” Commissioner Ray Prince stated.
Chairman Moye said the board would be doing additional research and would vote on the matter at its Sept. 1 meeting.
In other business Tuesday night, the board discussed another real estate matter with attorney Ridley.
According to Ridley, the county has been requested to issue a quit claim deed for some property in Reno at the request of attorney Claire Chason, who is representing Nirmal Singh.
Ridley explained that in the early 1900s Reno was platted as a town including streets and alley ways, which he says were never developed. In his opinion, the county does not own the property that was designated for streets and alley ways so it has no interest and nothing to convey.
Neither Ridley’s research nor Singh’s produced evidence of the property being conveyed to the county. The county attorney suggested that he and attorney Chason may could come to some sort of agreement to settle the matter, but he stuck by his claim that the county has nothing to convey.
The board authorized Ridley to seek an agreement that was mutually agreed to by the county and Singh and to report back to the board if necessary.
The board also voted 4-0 Tuesday night to accept the low bid of Flint Equipment for $10,599 for a diamond mower attachment for the county road department’s skid steer to be used to properly maintain around the 40 concrete bridges in the county as required by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The county also received a bid from Yancey Equipment for $12,578.
The board met briefly behind closed doors with Attorney Ridley to discuss a personnel and real estate issue. No action was taken as a result of the closed session.