Right-of-way hearing planned in village

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

A public hearing will be held Nov. 7 in the village of Urbancrest regarding a petition to vacate several right-of-ways.

The petition was made by resident Edward Cooley and was first presented to the village council in March.

According to Cooley, his request for the vacation of Elm Street, Gilbert Avenue, Popular Street and John Street stems from his desire to make his property whole.

“My property is split up all over,” he said. “I’m just doing this so it can be whole again.”

His late father, John Albert Cooley, dedicated the right-of-ways to the village with the intention that residential developments would be constructed in the future, he said.

“His vision in the late 1950s was for a subdivision around that area,” said Cooley. “And for some reason the council never developed this area.”

He said since measures to develop the land near the right-of-ways never came to fruition, he felt it was time to ask council to vacate them. He also added that he has no intention to sell his property at this time.

Since making the request earlier this year, council has researched whether the vacation of the right-of-ways was in the best interest of the village when it came to future assets. They also requested their engineering firm Bird and Bull to look at whether utilities were in the area. Together, along with the cost of advertising the public hearing and attorney fees, the village has spent roughly $12,000 on utility and asset discovery.

Since the request was made public in March, residents and property owners near the right-of-ways have expressed a mixed reaction to the petition.

At a council meeting in September, one resident said she was in favor of the petition to vacate because it would “protect the community” from possible industrial developments, while another said he was not in favor of the vacation because it could possible hinder future development opportunities.

Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. explained that sections of the property is zoned residential and light industrial, which makes the vacation request a little more complex.

Due to the nature of public hearing restrictions, council is not expected to vote in favor or against the petition to vacate, nor are they expected to vote whether to assess the cost of discovery upon Cooley at the meeting.

Councilwoman Deborah Larkins-Jackson said that council would be acting as observers of the public hearing and then will render their decision at the Nov. 13 council meeting.

The public hearing will be held Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the village municipal building, 3492 First Ave.

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