County begins to resolve land ownership question

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Robert Noles/Opelika Observer

By Fred Woods
Editor

The Lee County Commission took the first steps to resolve the disputed ownership of a one-lane portion of Lee Road 425 that crosses a dam. A time line prepared by the highway department revealed that Lee County had a history of doing maintenance on the road.
On advice of County Attorney Stan Martin, the county formally declared, on motion from Commissioner Harris, LR 425 to be a public road. At its next meeting the commission will begin the legal process for the abandonment of a public road at the end of which it will clearly be private property and can be permanently closed.
In the meantime, Martin reminded, the county engineer can close the dam portion of the road upon his finding that the one-lane portion is unsafe.
Not content with just naming the Lee County Meeting Center after our latest local Medal of Honor recipient Command Sergeant Major (retired) Benny Adkins, the Lee County commissioners want to turn the entry to the building into a virtual shrine to Adkins.
Commissioners heard a presentation from Lindsey Tan of West Second Street, a design consulting firm, which wants to “oversee” installation of “concepts” advanced by an AU Interior Design class.
Upon County Engineer Hardee’s recommendation, the commission approved a $38,000 settlement with Sabal Trail pipeline for damages to county roads as a result of building the natural gas pipeline through Lee County. The agreement, with Price Gregory International who did the actual construction for Sabal Trail, calls for the county to perform the road repairs with the $38,000 as reimbursement for expenses. Mr. Hardee explained that this arrangement was preferable as the repairs would be done to the county’s satisfaction.
At Commissioner Ham’s request Mr. Hardee also discussed provisions of the Logging Notification Ordinance, passed by the Alabama legislature in 2012 allowing counties to adopt a notification process for the harvesting of timber and for timber harvesters’ use of county roads. Counties could also require harvesters to get liability insurance to pay for damages to county roads or to vehicles traveling on them.
The discussion came about because of widespread citizen complaints about mud tracked onto county roads by log and pulpwood trucks, particularly following heavy rains.
Lee County citizen Sonny Stillwell of Lee Road 333, which is presently suffering mud damage from log trucks, told the commission Lee County already has an ordinance requiring building contractors and others moving from muddy terrain onto public roads or streets to use “Construction Exit Pads” (CEPs) as a buffer between the two.  CEPs are defined as stone base pads that remove mud and caked soil from the tires of vehicles.
In other action, the commission:
– appointed (second readings) Randy Price to the Industrial Development Authority and Robert Ham to the EAMC Ambulance Board,
– approved Mr. Odel Banks’, Chewacla Park manager, request for Lee County Highway Department assistance in repairing park roads and
– approved transfer of restaurant retail liquor license from “old” El Gallo at 8600 U.S. 29 N to Las Margaritas (new name and new owner).

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