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Last updated on Tuesday, November 5, 2013
(MITCHELL) - Controversy over land has one Mitchell resident questioning why any business would want to open a facility in Mitchell.
CTC Corp. Assistant Kellie Kelley questioned city officials Tuesday night on why "common courtesy" wasn't used in addressing the situation.
CTC Corp. installs overhead conveyors, belt conveyors and perform preventative maintenance in factories. The business, owned by Bryan and Marcy Curl of English, planned on expanding the business, but now the company has been thrown into a land dispute.
The owners are ready to head to Crawford County where they have been offered free land in its industrial park with a 10-year tax abatement.
The company is located near Contech, south of the Lehigh Cement Co. The Curls purchased just over nine acres of land adjacent to their current facility for the estate of Steve Jones on Sept. 3. The recently purchased tract included two buildings. The plan was for the larger one to be used for fabrication, and the smaller one to be converted into an office area. Also, located on the corner of the property, is a concrete block area used to store the city of Mitchell's salt and sand reserves.
Kelley says the plan was to deed the property where the salt and sand reserves were located back over to the city. But according to Mayor Gary Pruett, a land survey claims that the city owns the property. Therefore City Attorney Bryon Steele filed a lawsuit to quiet the title on 1.13 acres the city needed to store its reserves. The suit included Bryan and Marcy Curl in addition to those who may own or have interest in adjacent parcels. The suit, if granted in the city's favor, would give the municipality that portion of the land.
Because of that lawsuit Kelley told the council the company is now thinking of moving out of Mitchell.
"Why would someone stay here and invest millions of dollars and have to continually look over their shoulders," Kelley says. "They (the owners) didn't deserve to be treated this way. What the city did was wrong and I have not found anyone in city government that knew about this law suit until after the fact."
Councilwoman Vicky Schlegel voiced similar feelings earlier in the meeting. She stated city council members were not made aware the lawsuit was being filed and found out about it after citizens approached council members asking questions after the story appeared in the Times-Mail.
"I would feel better knowing what is going on instead of learning about it after the fact," Schlegel says.
Councilwoman Nancy Miller agreed.
"I hate it when someone on the street tells you about it, when I knew nothing about it," Miller added.
Pruett agreed the communication with council members could be improved. Mayor Pruett also noted that officials can't discuss the lawsuit.
But Kelley says officials could have called the owners or her and discussed the situation before a law suit was filed.
"What happened to common courtesy," Kelley asked. "Why couldn't you (Mayor Pruett) pick up a phone and call. Not one city official new about this lawsuit until after the fact. I want to know how one or two people can make the decision to do this. This was just disrespectful. This company bought property in Mitchell, employs people in Mitchell, buys trucks and equipment locally and has never asked for a tax abatement. But yet the city can spend the taxpayers' money on a lawsuit? I want you to look me in the eye and tell me what the city did was right. We would have simply signed the property over to the city, but we were not even asked about it."
Pruett told Kelley he couldn't comment on the lawsuit but believes the suit will have the boundary lines and ownership rights clarified.
In other business:
* Mayor Pruett awarded Eagle Scout Kyle Terry a key to the city. Terry, from Mitchell Boy Scout Troop 348, was awarded his Eagle Scout award Saturday.
* Council members heard an update on the city fire hydrants. Last month there were concerns that several of the hydrants were not working. According to Mayor Pruett, Utilities Superintendent Tyler Duncan says all the hydrants are working properly in the city except four and those are being repaired.
* The Safe Routes to School project should be complete on Friday. Crews are finishing up work on Hancock Avenue which should be complete by Friday. Sidewalks were placed from Burris Elementary School to the railroad tracks near Sheeks Drive, and on 12th Street, from Hancock Avenue to Brook Street.
"The process has taken longer than expected," Pruett says "But it is looking good now."
* Council woman Schelgel voiced concerns about the condition of building the police department is currently using.
Mayor Pruett says the goal is to move the police department back into city hall.
"Something has to be done," Pruett says. "We are currently working with SIDC to hopefully secure a grant. But the problem is there are grants for fire departments and fire trucks but not for police stations."
* Cindy Cain, who lives at 129 Pleasant View Drive, requested city officials address the issues of sewer back up.
Cain says they have replaced their sewer line in 2010 and maintain those lines, but they are still having problems with the sewers backing up in their yard.
"It has gotten so bad during some rains that we can't even flush our toilet," she told the council. "And raw sewage is running into the street. It happens almost every time it rains."
Cain told the council she has video showing the backup.
Pruett told Cain he would address the issue with Utilities Superintendent Tyler Duncan.
Former Mayor Jerry Hancock says one of the problems is that too many residents have their rain gutters draining into the sewer systems.
"I can drive you around and show you," He says. "You have all these ordinances but you are not doing a damn thing to enforce them."
Hancock also asked Mayor Pruett if the city was going to reimburse him on the placement of a sewer main and lift station he paid to have installed on Hamilton Boulevard.
"I believe I am entitled to about $124,000," He says. "I have paid the bills for the lift station all this time. I have done my part for this city and I want some answers or I am going to do something."
He also questioned why the city has not painted yellow lines down the middle of main street.
"People don't know where the center line is when they are backing out down town," Hancock says. "Do I need to get permission to do a road block to pay for five to six cans of paint?"
Hancock also asked if the city had a zoning board.
"There are four lots on Fifth Street and I was wanting to put a trailer in there," Hancock added. "But no one ever returns phone calls and you (the mayor) are never in your office. I wanted to know where I need to go to make that request."
Hancock was told he needed to bring his request to the Planning Commission.
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