Former county judge sways decision on closed road

Monday, June 11, 2007

Green Forest -- On Monday, County Judge Richard Williams re-ordered Bob Tanner to remove his gate, which Williams states is still blocking a county road.

Earlier this year, a court order was issued for the removal of the gate on County Road 806, formerly CR 337, because Judge Williams said he received complaints from landowners that the gate was blocking access to their property.

Tanner maintained that when he purchased the land in 2000, he was told that the road was a private drive, and he has since paid for the upkeep, which has cost him approximately $3,500 in the past seven years.

The discrepancy led to a May 25 hearing, where Attorney Kent Crow, representing Tanner, called several neighbors of the property on Ark. Hwy. 311 to the witness stand.

However, Williams said it was the testimony of former County Judge Jack Beason, who signed the original order to only partially close the road, that swayed his decision.

During the hearing, Beason said he clearly remembered his intention was to only close the north part of the road.

"They asked for the whole loop," said Beason, "but I didn't think we should close the whole road."

Also during the hearing, Crow presented an inconsistency in the 1990 petition to partially close the road.

The petition signed by several neighbors stated that the road should be entirely closed; however, the order, signed by Beason, stated to only partially close the road, but also to concur with the petition.

"The error in the order was that it said it would concur with the petition," said Williams during a later interview. "When the neighbors testified, they all said that they meant for only one piece of the road to be shut."

He also said that the neighbors of the property who originally complained about the locked gate still wanted the road to be open.

Each witness stated the reason for the closing of the road in 1990 was because the land was being used for beer and dope parties, and maintained that after the order to close the north part of the loop (which now has a fence across it), the activities ceased.

Williams said since the nuisance had stopped with the partial closing of the road, he didn't feel it was necessary to close the entire road.

The order handed down on June 4 states that the gate or any other structure blocking or impeding access to CR 806 be removed within 30 days.

Crow stated that his client, Bob Tanner, had the option to appeal the decision to the circuit court, but was unaware of Tanners decision as of press time.

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