S’hampton supervisors deny plat request

Published 8:40 am Monday, April 1, 2013

COURTLAND—Southampton Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to keep a 30-foot strip of land after a public hearing Monday.

The issue was whether or not the county should vacate the property in the Branchville community.

The area was platted in 1949 and was shown as “reserved for street.” When the plat was recorded, that strip of land was transferred in fee simple to the county, according to research of state statutes by County Attorney Richard Railey.

The matter of the 30-foot path was raised when Robert Simmons Jr. asked the county to vacate ownership interest, as the entire parcel of land belongs in his family and was subdivided in 1949 by his relative, Mrs. W.S. Deloatch.

In a letter to the board and County Administrator Mike Johnson, Simmons maintains a path has been “improperly made” between two lots, pine trees were removed, a drainage pipe installed without permit and individuals with guns seen on the path.

Simmons said in his letter that “the county had never used the land and it is too narrow to be used as a street.” He asked that the county vacate the 30-foot section between lots 24 and 25, and states he is the owner of lots 12-37 and the “only owner adjacent to the reserved area.”

Once the public hearing was called open, several Branchville community members came forth saying the road was used to access the community building, which is the local Disaster Relief location; used by the sheriff’s department and fire departments for training; and used for access when the right-of-way is blocked. Hank Fuller with the Boykins Fire Department said the path is used for training opportunities.

Simmons was the sole voice in favor of the county vacating the plat.

“The property was subdivided by my relatives and I am the only owner next to this path. The path was created when they didn’t have the right to do so,” he said.

Once back in regular session, the board discussed the situation.

Supervisor Glenn Updike (Newsoms District) said the matter was a “no brainer.”

“The property is owned by the county and used by the citizens,” he added. “To deny the citizens use of it would be criminal. I move we deny the request and leave it like it is.”

Franklin District Supervisor Barry Porter asked the county attorney if the man who made the path improvements had contacted them about it. Railey said he told Charles Hood of Boykins, who improved the path, that the property was dedicated to the county.

“I’ve never had someone improve county land,” Railey said, adding, “but no, he didn’t do anything improper.”

Supervisor Ron West (Berlin-Ivor District) said he thought there was a need for places in the county that offered recreation and activity.

“I would be in favor of keeping the property with the improvements.”

Supervisor Bruce Phillips (Capron District) said he too was in favor of continued use of the path.

Dr. Alan Edwards (Jerusalem District) said to close it would be a mistake.