By Naomi Hatch
It has been a 12-year process, but Gayle and Velma Perkins finally have legal access to their property on East Cattle Lane.
“This is something that I’ve had quite a little bit to do with and, hopefully, we can get this ratified and taken care of,” said Councilman Shawn Palmer at the Feb. 6 town council meeting.
“I can tell you that they’re very good people, that they’re very honest people,” said Palmer of the Perkins. He then identified three things that needed to be taken care of, including a definition of the property lines to show exactly where their properties are; a description to grant legal access of ingress and egress from their property; and they live just off a public roadway, they haven’t asked for anything, but Palmer said he felt that the town should maintain the road and put it on the regular maintenance schedule.
Palmer went on to explain the other part of the problem is that a fence was improperly placed and is on town property. “I can tell you that not through any dishonest act and not through any vengeance of any kind, but due to a couple of different agencies… encouraging the movement of the fence,” he explained, noting that one of the title companies had told them to move the fence, which is now in Cattle Lane.
Palmer said the Perkins were ignored by the former town manager and because they are understanding, they have provided the materials and Palmer suggested the town provide all the labor to reinstall the fence.
Town Attorney Sterling Solomon explained that the town proposed the purchase of 60’ from the Hausman family as a solution; it was surveyed and the survey is attached to Ordinance 2012-02, which was approved by this council.
“That was approved by another council,” said Mayor Fay Hatch.
Solomon responded that it was approved April 7, 2012, by this council and went into affect on March 6.
Town Attorney Stu Spaulding explained, “The Perkins owned some land, it was defined by metes and bounds…the south property line is defined by that.”
“When it was originally plotted by Jesse N. Smith there was a road that went through here,” (Spaulding pointed out the East Center Street Road from 900 East to the abandoned railroad).
“At some time in the past Center Street was caused to go around because this was good farmland and people don’t waste good farmland,” said Spaulding.
He noted that the town graveled and bladed the road, which makes it responsible, but never did maintain the road, “So what happens is we have full liability and should continue blading that road.”
Velma Perkins said, “The process of getting access to our property has been 12 years, mainly because other councils didn’t do what they should have done,” noting that they should have had access through Center Street or Cattle Lane.
She said they approached the town manager several times and he never came out to show where the fence should have been, so they put it up to the best of their knowledge. She also said that at that time they were being blocked 65’ by a neighbor.
“The treatment of the Perkins…was deplorable,” she said, noting they met the previous day with Spauld-ing, Palmer, Solomon and Harold Baldwin, who did the engineering and declared that Center Street was their property line boundary on the map.
Perkins expressed concern because Solomon had sent them a letter threatening a lawsuit over the fence.
“I want to say that it is a pleasure to know that attitudes were changed yesterday,” she said, noting that being on the agenda for this meeting “is the final resolution.”
Perkins agreed with the property line agreement that the town wanted them to sign, stating that was what had been agreed to in the meeting; but she did not agree that she and her husband should sign saying they hold the town harmless, because they had never threatened a lawsuit.
Solomon explained that their attorney had previously.
Perkins responded that they did not have an attorney retained at this time and would not sue the town.
“You’ve hired me to do a job making sure the town is protected,” explained Solomon. “The council has complete authority to approve a one-way hold harmless.” It was his recommendation that both the town and the Perkins sign harmless clauses.
“I don’t feel threatened at all and I don’t understand why you’re asking us to sign this,” said Perkins.
Mayor Hatch explained that they want to be sure there is no other legal action taken and they want to guarantee that by signing the agreement.
“I don’t want to be involved in anything to do with the 60’ roadway, because it’s a misdemeanor,” said Perkins. “All I’m asking is just release us from the lawsuit.”
Reading state statute she noted that the town had no right to purchase private property for Center Street.
Solomon quoted state statutes that gave the town the right to purchase the property for a roadway, and suggested a way of wording the agreement that would be agreeable to both parties.
The council took a brief break and Solomon rewrote the last paragraph.
Councilman Gary Solomon moved to accept the proposed property line agreement and mutual release of all claims, which was seconded by Vice Mayor Jane Lee and passed unanimously.
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By Naomi Hatch