In a 5-1 vote, with council member Mary Hawkins voting no, the Lewisport City Council voted to relinquish any interest the city possibly owned to an easement to the old ferry landing/boat dock at the end of Fourth Street.
The issue arose last month when council members questioned the installation of a driveway at 110 Fourth Street, owned by Kason Critcheloe. Council member Mary Hawkins said the driveway encroached on city property, and the portion encroaching needed removal. The city looked into the matter, and rendered a decision this month.
“It has been looked at and the driveway stays,” Mayor Chad Gregory said.
Council member Mary Hawkins produced an easement from 1945 that granted an easement along the east side of Fourth Street all the way down to the river. The easement in question did not mention the city, but did grant easement to somebody.
“Once an easement is conveyed, it stays with the property,” Hawkins said.
Mayor Gregory disagreed with Hawkins’ statement.
“Mary, that is nothing,” Gregory said. “That easement does not point out any party or any individual.”
Gregory said at the May meeting members of the council said the city possessed a deed to the property.
He said no one found a deed granting the city an easement to the property. Property owner Kason Critcheloe said the current deed does not mention an easement to the city on his property. Critcheloe said he talked to a lawyer, and the lawyer said two different types of easements existed: one granting access to perpetuity, and one to a specific person.
He said when the person given the easement dies, the easement ends. He suspects that is the case in this situation. “The reason it is not on the deed today is because when that person passed, it is no longer relevant,” Critcheloe.
Critcheloe said it upset him that members of the council made an issue out of his driveway without researching to see if the city actually owned the property in question. Critcheloe said he felt the city council attacked his character and defamed him in the process, and that the city owned him an apology.
He also questioned the motives of council members that brought this issue before the council.
“For some on this council, it is an issue of arrogance and pride on their position on this council,” he said. “It is not an issue of the ramp or even my driveway; the issue comes down to they have a personal feeling of ‘did this person come and ask my permission,’ so that is the issue.”
After making this remark, Critcheloe said he was not accusing any members of this specific action. He asked the council members examine their motivation for making his driveway an issue.
Council members Kelly Vanover, Wes Pate and Josh Roberts offered an apology to Critcheloe, and said the property belonged to him and was his to do as he pleased. Council member Marsha Johnson said after the May meeting, she thought his driveway encroached on city property, so went down after the meeting to examine the driveway.
“I apologize to you,” Johnson said.
Council members continued to discuss the situation among themselves, and the council decided to take official action to solve the situation. Mayor Gregory asked for a motion to absolve the city of any interest to the ferry landing/old boat dock. Wes Pate made the motion, and Josh Roberts provided the second. It passed 5-1.
“That releases us from any interest at all to that ferry landing down there,” Gregory said.
• The council passed the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget. The budget projects revenues of $2,850,350 and appropriations of $2,552,969. The city projects a surplus of $297,381 for fiscal year 21-22.
• The council passed new water rates for the city. The city changed the water rate schedule to add a monthly service fee of $9.81 to city residents, and $18.14 for rural water customers. For city residents, the cost of water each month is $4.53 per 1,000 gallons used plus the service fee. For a home in the city that used 4,000 gallons of water per month, the bill totals $27.93. The water rate for rural customers is $6.05 per 1,000 gallons of water used. For a dwelling using 4,000 gallons of water in a month, the bill totals $42.34.
• The council also approved a service fee for the wastewater collection system (sewer). The cost per 1,000 gallons of wastewater produced is $4.85, with a fee of $12.48 added. For a home producing 4,000 gallons of wastewater (sewer), the bill totals $31.88. The city does not offer sewer service to rural customers.
By Ralph Dickerson