Gamber residents decry ruling on private property

December 22, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The owners of a small strip of land in Gamber see a judge's decision to uphold the county's condemnation of privately owned property as a concession to development.

Last week, Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. affirmed the county's power of condemnation in a decision that members of the High Ridge Association said will benefit a farmer who wants to develop adjacent property.

Members are "distressed as a community" at the decision, said Gary Spencer, president of the 80-member organization. They will probably appeal the condemnation of the 50-by-15-foot strip, legally deeded to the association several years ago, he said.

"We are carefully considering all our options, with the chief among them being to appeal," said Mr. Spencer, a High Ridge resident for 16 years.

The county commissioners used their power of condemnation last year to purchase the property for the public benefit. The homeowners group said the condemnation will benefit only Aaron Green, who wants to develop his 135-acre farm.

Aaron Green was unavailable for comment. His wife, Ruth Green, said Tuesday, "We're pleased with the outcome."

The condemnation paves the way for easy access to Mr. Green's property by extending High Ridge Drive, now a cul-de-sac, without disturbing surrounding farmland.

"The extension of High Ridge Drives serves a public purpose as it allows the development of Mr. Green's property in accordance with [the county's] master plan," wrote County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. in final arguments filed last December.

"The road that results from the extension will be incorporated into the county road system, which is open to the public," he said.

L Mr. Spencer said the planned development would have 20 to 40

houses.

"Certainly, a farmer has the right to sell or develop his land, but 40 new homes will have a serious impact on traffic to our street," he said.

"We thought our community was safe from further development. It's the value of our quality of life vs. development."

Mr. Spencer calls the suit "incredibly ironic" and an "outrageous use of public money."

"The government took our tax dollars to file a suit against us and take away land deeded to our association and give it to a farmer to make his land more valuable," he said.

Mr. Spencer also questions the timing of the decision, which Judge Burns had been considering for a year.

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