Lead Mine Rd. residents speak their peace

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     In re-starting the condemnation proceedings concerning the purchase of right of way along Lead Mine Road, the Jones County Supervisors held a public hearing on June 23, allowing affected landowners to say their peace.

     Due to the time constraints Secondary Roads was under, they could not complete the condemnation process, having been held up because of COVID-19. Therefore, the process was dismissed.

     “We’re still going to continue with the project,” noted County Engineer Derek Snead.

     Several property owners were present during the meeting, with more to speak at a second public hearing on July 28.

     “We still need right of way to make the project work and proceed with funding through LOT (local option tax),” added Snead. “It’s a highly traveled road, difficult to maintain and emergency personnel have requested changes.

     “We have a lot invested at this point and want to proceed with the project plans,” continued Snead. “Our plans have stayed the same; nothing has changed. The only thing we’re waiting on is right of way. All of our permits and in line.”

     Snead and Assistant Engineer Todd Postel said the preliminary letting date is Oct. 13, 2020.

     Mike Courtney, a Lead Mine resident, said he had concerns with how the condemnation process was proceeding.

     “I was told I’d have a 30-day notice before the public hearing and I only got 18 days’ notice,” he said.

     Courtney added that he was also under the impression he’d receive a list of the condemnation commissioners for review, which he said he did not receive.

     “I’ve had to incur more costs from my attorney that I shouldn’t have had to,” Courtney said of an additional $2,000 in legal fees.

     He asked that he be reimbursed from the county because of the fact that the condemnation proceedings had to start over again.

     “I should get a new appraisal because this one is 20 months old,” suggested Courtney. “And that will be additional costs.”

     Snead clarified that Courtney was given 30 days notice from the previous meeting. He said the need to re-start of process over stems from extenuating circumstances, out of the county’s control.

     Once the right of way applications have been submitted, Snead said landowners would receive a copy of the commissioners and alternates.

     In terms of the appraisal, Snead spoke to the appraiser who said no changes would be needed due to the market and comparables.

     “It would essentially be the same and we’re confident in the numbers we were given the first time,” Snead said of the appraisals.

     Jim Carlson, another resident on Lead Mine, praised the county for sticking with this road project as long as they have.

     “It’s been carrying on quite a while, and you’ve done everything right,” he said. “The appraisals all look more than fair for what the county is offering.”

     Carlson said Lead Mine is closed yet again due to recent flooding, “and it keeps getting worse and worse” from a safety standpoint.

     Carlson said some people along that road only want to complain about the condition of the roadway, and won’t do anything to help the situation.

     “It’s a matter of time before something serious will happen on that road,” concluded Carlson.

     Snead said there was a near-fatal accident on Lead Mine a couple months ago.

     Amanda Ruggles, who resides on Lead Mine, echoed Courtney’s sentiments in terms of the costs she and her husband have incurred “to get to this point with the project.

     “I’m also requesting reimbursement because the entire process was dismissed and had to start over,” she said.

     Snead said there was no requirement that landowners had to secure legal counsel throughout the right of way appraisal process.

     The board submitted both Courtney and Ruggles’ comments as part of the official meeting minutes.

     No action will be taken until after the July public hearing.


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