Council approves right-of-way vacation request

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

A request to vacate several right-of-ways in the village of Urbancrest was granted at the Nov. 13 council meeting.

A unanimous decision was rendered in favor of the vacation, said councilwoman Deborah Larkins-Jackson, due to a positive recommendation made previously by the village’s planning commission.

“Their determination was the request to vacate these right-of-ways would not harm the village,” she said.

She added that based on the research the council has conducted since the request was made by resident Richard Cooley in March, the council agreed as well.

“The council has not done anything with those right-of-ways in 50 years,” she said. “It’s time to move on.”

In the past several months, the request by Cooley to vacate the right-of-ways at Gilbert Avenue, Elm Street, Popular Avenue and John Street has become a contentious issue for some neighboring residents and property owners.

Developer Jeff Mahan had spoken out against the vacation of the right-of-ways as he believed it would hinder access to his property. He was in attendance at the Nov. 13 meeting to speak out against the vacation.

Other residents had spoken in favor of the vacation as they believed it would help restrict industrial traffic along residential roads. They too spoke at the meeting to speak in favor of the vacation.

For his part, Cooley said he had no intention to sell or develop his property at this time.

Instead, he said he made the request because he wanted to make his property “whole again.”

With the approval, council granted the vacation of Gilbert Avenue, Elm Street and Popular Avenue. They did not, however, grant the request to vacate John Street.

Planning commission chairman Randall Bogue said they recommended to leave that street as is due to its position running north and south.

Cooley said he was OK with the decision.

Council also briefly discussed whether they would assess the cost of utility discovery and engineering and attorney fees to Cooley, but did not render a decision. According to fiscal officer Kathy Thimmes, the village has spent roughly $12,000 regarding utility research and asset discovery of the right-of-ways.

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