MOUNT CARMEL — A Mount Carmel man who has reportedly gated off a 75-foot section of public street on McCracken Lane can expect to be visited by some members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen over the next month.
Tuesday evening the BMA discussed either filing a lawsuit against the property owner or citing him into municipal court on a city code violation.
Ultimately the BMA agreed to postpone any action against the property owner to give board members time to visit the property and see what's going on for themselves.
Assuming the gate hasn't been removed within the next month, the matter will come back before the BMA possible action at its Nov. 25 meeting.
Building inspector Vince Pishner told the BMA Tuesday that the property owner had installed a gate on the end of McCracken Lane at the intersection of his property line, fencing off about 75 feet of paved city street.
Last month City Attorney Chris Raines sent the property owner a letter asking him to take the gate down.
As of Tuesday, however, the gate was still up and neither Pishner nor Raines has received a response from the property owner.
Aside from blocking 75 feet of city street, the gate, when closed, denies access to another piece of property which is currently up for sale.
Board member Eugene Christian said a real estate company was showing that back property, and there was apparently a dispute with neighbor, which resulted in the neighbor putting up the gate.
"He's really got him blocked," said Alderman Carl Wolfe.
"The gate is open, but he has the ability to block him," Raines replied.
"I've seen it closed," Christian added.
Raines noted that the gate post is also on city right of way.
"How does he come up with the fact that he can put the gate there, and justify the gate being there?" Alderman Frances Frost asked.
"I've not had a conversation with him," Raines answered. "I sent him a letter."
Raines said the board has the option of authorizing him to file a lawsuit against the property owner in Hawkins County Chancery Court seeking to have the gate removed. He noted that might be time-consuming.
Another option would be to cite the gate owner into Municipal Court for violating city code.
"Under no circumstances should he close this guy off from his property," said Mayor Larry Frost. "He is restricting the possible sale of this guy's property."
Alderman Frost said she couldn't make a decision until she investigates the situation for herself.
"I think I'd rather go over there and look at it before I make a decision," said Alderman Wanda Davidson. "If he won't talk to either of you two (Pishner or Raines), maybe he'll talk to me."
In other business, the BMA: