KIMBERLY — A controversy continues over a church's request that the city vacate two long-unused roadways.
The Kimberly City Council heard Monday night from Rudy Sandlin, who used to operate the Fisherman's Shop in a building just across Doss Street from City Hall. Sandlin, who once served as Kimberly's mayor, complained the Kimberly Church of God — which asked the city to vacate the former Janie Street and an alleyway off of Jefferson Street — has a history of encroaching on city property and rights of way as it expanded its parking lots over the years.
The church made their request at a hearing on July 10. Church pastor Dr. Stan Cooke asked the city to vacate the alley, which has not been used for traffic in decades and is covered in grass, and allow the church to have a 10-by-50 foot strip of land from the alley for expansion of a parking lot.
Cooke also asked the city to vacate Janie Street, which sits just to the north of a lot containing a house the church recently purchased which faces Jefferson Street. The church recently tore the house down, with the intent of making the property into more parking.
Janie Street is not marked with signs, and is today a grass strip. The street once ran between Jefferson Street and Decatur Highway as well, but the church took that part over years ago and it is now part of a parking lot.
Cooke stated that the church had a right to make the request under "adverse possession" laws, because the church had maintained the alleyway for more than 10 years, and that part of an existing lot already overlaps the unused alley.
Those requests met with opposition from Leslie Armstrong, Sandlin's daughter, who said she would lose access to her property of the streets were vacated. Armstrong said in a written statement (she could not attend the hearing) that she uses the passageways to get between her house and the adjacent closed store, and that she receives mail and garbage pickups through there.
In Monday night's regular session, Rudy Sandlin argued that the church has a history of encroaching on adjacent property and public rights of way, showing a diagram which illustrated a curb and grassy area which is part of the parking lot that he alleged was across the right-of-way line into Doss Street, which runs perpendicular to Decatur Highway.
Mayor Bob Ellerbrock said that he had referred the issue to the city's attorneys, and did not take action Monday because the attorney specializing in such matters was on vacation last week and did not have sufficient time to review the case.
The council also declared winners in the upcoming municipal election — an election that will not need to be held because all positions went unopposed.
Mayor Ellerbrock will run for a full term, having taken the post last week from the Craig Harris, who resigned. Brad Stark, Brian Pharris and Donna Cude will retain their seats. John Richardson will take Ellerbrock's old seat, while Lance Shivers will replace Lowell Holland, who did not file for re-election.
The council also voted to fill Ellerbrock's vacant seat with Richardson through November, for the remainder of the current term.
In other business, the council;
- Voted to name Pharris as mayor pro tem, replacing Ellerbrock in that position
- Awarded a contract of $5,303 to Jerome Cannon for construction of a new concrete pad for a dumpster at the city's park
- Appointed Cindy Neely to fill a vacancy on the Planing and Zoning Board
- Heard a report from Ellerbrock that Harris had returned several pieces of city property in his possession last week, but still had not returned a laptop computer
- Approved an estimate for repairs to a police car, which was damaged last Thursday when Police Chief James Belding crashed when he had a tire go flat while driving on a rain-slicked Decatur Highway. Insurance will cover everything but a $500 deductible.