Ann Street woes continue for property owners near the area. Ann Street and the slope around the property continues to fail with each passing day.
This issue was brought up at the recent fiscal court meeting. Robert Perkins, an employee at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, gave a presentation concerning the street failure and some possible ways of fixing the problem.
The issue arose when excavation was performed by Clark Mills on property belonging to Glenda Redmond, which was bound by KY 66, Ann Street, and property belonging to William Sinkhorn, according to Perkins.
It was stated that Sinkhorn went to Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock with concerns about the excavation. Brock stated that the excavation was done on private property by private property owners, and that it was not his responsibility to govern those types of issues because of suspicion.
“There are excavation taking place all over this county around county roads. We don’t go out there and police that,” said Brock.
The excavation was performed during late July and August of 2010. During the excavation, the toe of Ann Street containing large boulders essential to the support of the street was removed. After the excavation was performed, slope failure began to occur during early spring 2011. According to Perkins, the problem continues to worsen.
Since the failures began, concerns from property owners have grown. Midge Asher, who owns property in the area, is land locked with no access to her property, and Sinkhorn is experiencing slope failure within the boundaries of his property. Perkins’ investment property has cracking in the brick, jeopardizing the foundation, according to Perkins.
Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) provided a report of their investigation dated March 2011 that stated unsupported excavation was the blame for the slope failure.
Perkins also presented some requests that he had prepared for the fiscal court. One request was for repair to be done using a poly wall. The estimated cost to install a poly wall is $134,847.
Another request from Perkins was for the fiscal court to purchase the property that belongs to Clark Mills, who bought the failing property from Redmond for $8,000 in March 2011. That request also includes rebuilding the toe of the slopes and making repairs to Ann Street and surrounding properties.
The final two requests were for the fiscal court to purchase all properties affected by the failing slope and to take legal action on behalf of the county and surrounding property owners against Mills and Redmond to recover costs.
These requests have been previously submitted by the fiscal court, but was turned down by the transportation cabinet because they felt it would be a conflict of interest because of Perkins’ role in the cabinet. The fiscal court does plan to re-submit the request.
As far as legal action on behalf of the fiscal court goes, Brock stated that the fiscal court can not litigate on the behalf of private property owners. If the court did litigate the issue, it would only be litigating issues with the road.
Perkins stated that the only way to restore the road is to restore the toe of the slope. This is where the county could help the project, according to Perkins.
If the county fronted the lawsuit, the county would get paid, but the land owners would not get relief. According to Brock, the road could be put back and made accessible and it still would not fix the problem.
Brock also asked Perkins why he had not obtained the services of a lawyer and sued Mills and Redmond when the excavation first occurred. Perkins replied that initially, the problem did not affect the land owners. It was not until the street began to fall in that property was damaged. Perkins did say that he is currently consulting with a lawyer.
Brock did point out that he had several entities come into the area and look at the problem. He also stated that he had sent emails to Frankfort and had a congressman field agent to look at the problem.
Perkins and Sinkhorn stated that they ultimately want relief from the issue and would like the fiscal court to take more action in having the problem fixed. They said they feel like the window is closing quickly for anything to be done since the two year mark rolling around.
Perkins also requested a stay involving the issue because of the approaching two year mark.
According to Sinkhorn, the slope will continue to slide until it hits the weakest point, which is an open lot. If the slope is not supported, everything on the hill will slide off, according to Sinkhorn. There are 12 houses along Ann Street, according to Sinkhorn.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.