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Vacating property to be researched

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

By Ken Ross, Managing editor

A number of legal issues were raised at the Cherokee City Council meeting on Tuesday regarding the possibility of vacating a 15 foot strip of property between Hillside Street residential properties and the Cherokee Country Club.

Wally Miller, Jr., city attorney, will look into the legal questions and address them at a future city council meeting.

The matter was brought to the council in July by Morley Specht of 934 Hillside Street, who said he has been trying since 1959 to get the matter resolved. A 15 foot strip had been platted as an alley but never used as an alley. The land has been used as backyard areas by some of the Hillside residents and even has some structures on it.

Specht, along with some of the property owners, want the 15 foot strip to be given up by the city with a 7.5 foot strip to go to the country club and the other 7.5 foot strip to be divided among the residential property owners. Specht said the estimated increase in his property tax would be $4.75 a year and he has the largest of the residential lots.

Specht said he doesn't believe that 100 percent of the residents will be in favor of the plan.

The council members were in favor of eliminating city ownership of the property. The city does no maintenance on the property and has potential liability for accidents. It was noted that the city would have to maintain an easement for a sewer line that runs behind four of the properties.

City council members expressed the opinion that the city should get rid of all of the 15 foot strip or get rid of none of it. They also expressed the opinion that the city does not want to pay any expenses for getting rid of the property.

Deb Taylor, city clerk, explained at a July meeting that the process of vacating a property would require that a legal description be written, the matter be referred to the planning and zoning commission, a public hearing be held and deeds be written.

The matter was referred to the planning and zoning commission. The commission's recommendation, presented at the Tuesday council meeting, was for the city to vacate the property.

If the city attempted to sell the property, it would be open to all bidders and could result in tiny landlocked lots, presumably requiring access easements.

When a property is vacated by the city it reverts back to the original property from which it was separated.

Miller said he would look into whether the city can simply vacate the property without permission from the affected neighboring property owners and require them to take ownership. This also raises the question of whether the city can require the property owners to assume the expenses involved in changing ownership.

Another question is whether the property that was platted as an alley was ever part of the property that it is supposed to revert back to.

Specht said that this will be the last time he will bring the matter before the council, whether or not he is successful.


Dan Morrow brought a petition before the city council seeking the removal of Ron Strickland from the position of city administrator.

"The city administrator hasn't lived up to the contract or up to expectations," Morrow said.

He suggested revoking the contract with the administrator.

In response to a question about the number of signatures on the petition, Morrow said he didn't have a number. He said some petitions had been taken from their locations.

Ron Johnson, council member, said that he didn't think a contract could be revoked. It would have to be bought out. Johnson informed Morrow that the council would give the matter consideration.

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