While I don’t know if the proposed closing of the end of Old State Road leading to Hotchkiss Landing at the Alapaha River is even on the agenda for this morning’s Work Session (Clarification: Monday 25 Feb 2013; they vote 5:30 PM Tuesday 26 Feb 2013), because the county’s website is down and I can’t retrieve an agenda, in case it is, it may be of interest to know that the Georgia Supreme Court appears to have explicitly forbidden what the county is proposing to do.
Georgia Supreme Court, GRIFFITH v. C & E BUILDERS, 231 Ga. 255 (1973), 200 S.E.2d 874:
1. “When a grantor sells lots of land, and in his deeds describes them as bounded by streets, not expressly mentioned in the deeds, but shown upon a plat therein referred to as laid out in a subdivision of the grantor’s land, he is estopped to deny the grantees’ right to use the streets delineated in such plat. Ford v. Harris [95 Ga. 97, 22 SE 144]; Schreck v. Blun, 131 Ga. 489 (62 SE 705); Wimpey v. Smart, 137 Ga. 325 (73 SE 586); Gibson v. Gross, 143 Ga. 104 (84 SE 373). By parity of reasoning those claiming under such conveyances are estopped from denying the existence of the streets so delineated upon the plat of the subdivision and given as boundaries of lots acquired by these and others from the grantor or those claiming under him. All persons claiming under such grantor are forever estopped to deny their existence. 19 CJ 928, § 127 (b).” Tietjen v. Meldrim, 169 Ga. 678, 697 (151 SE 349); Davis v. City of Valdosta,223 Ga. 523 (156 S.E.2d 345).
I am not a lawyer, but I wonder what a lawyer would say 1. above implies about the county doing nothing about a blocked public road?
But the Georgia Supreme Court didn’t stop there:
2. “Neither the General Assembly nor a subordinate public corporation acting under its authority can lawfully vacate a public street or highway for the benefit of a private individual. The street or highway can not be vacated unless it is for the benefit of the public that such action should be taken. The benefit may be either in relieving the public from the charge of maintaining a street or highway that is no longer useful or convenient to the public, or by laying out a new street or road in its place which will be more useful and convenient to the public in general. If the public interest is not the motive which prompts the vacation of the street, whether partial or entire, the act of vacation is an abuse of power, and especially would it be a gross abuse of power if it is authorized without reference to the rights of the public and merely that the convenience of a private individual might be subserved.” Marietta Chair Co. v. Henderson, 121 Ga. 399, 407 (49 SE 312, 104 ASR 156, 2 AC 83); Dunlap v. Tift,209 Ga. 201 (71 S.E.2d 237).
from Lowndes County’s own minutes of the 26 October
2013 2010 meeting
at which this same road closing was previously denied by the Commission
that 450 people opposed it and only one spoke for.
We don’t know exactly how many oppose it this time, but we do know
many people have written letters against
the Commission room was packed with opponents two weeks ago.
Once again, I am not a lawyer, but I wonder if a lawyer would
interpret this as an attempt to
“vacate a public street or highway for the benefit of a private individual.”
I’ve previously stated that the Commission often seems overly concerned
about lawsuits, but in this case if I were them I might worry about this:
“If the public interest is not the motive which prompts the vacation of the street, whether partial or entire, the act of vacation is an abuse of power, and especially would it be a gross abuse of power if it is authorized without reference to the rights of the public and merely that the convenience of a private individual might be subserved.”
I’m still not a lawyer, but isn’t abuse of power something that often causes people to sue for damages?