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Property Owners Will Continue To Fight Development Of Trails

Last updated on Thursday, December 8, 2016

(EAST OOLITIC) - More than 50 landowners voiced their concerns about the expansion of trails in Lawrence County at a meeting at the East Oolitic Community Center Saturday afternoon.

The meeting was organized by Tug Beal and other members of S.T.O.P. (Save Taxes and Our Property group) a group of 74 affected property owners along the railroad beds.

These local property owners are against extending trails from Bloomington south toward Oolitic and other areas within the county.

"They're looking to expand in several areas on county maps," Beal says. "A lot of us living here are going to be affected. We can't stand by... something needs to be done."

Since 1986, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has operated from coast to coast, supporting the development of thousands of miles of multi-use trails along railroad beds. RTC claims its mission is to build a nationwide network of trails connecting corridors that can serve as multi-use pathways.

As a result of the master plan, trail organizers hope to create a bike trail connecting Mitchell, Bedford and Oolitic.

There is also concerns that Rails-To-Trails is planning to create a wetland park west of Peerless Road on property that once belonged to General Motors.

Members of S.T.O.P. continue to express concerns about infringement of property rights and safety issues.

Beal detailed a long list of criminal activity associated with the B-Line Trail in Bloomington.

"We don't want that trail coming down into our peaceful valley," he added. "We have cited the increased number of sexual assaults and crimes occurring on the Monroe County trails and believe that would spread into Lawrence County. It is one of our major oppositions to the trails."

Several property owners noted trespassing already happening for property owners along the rail beds, along with vandalism, thefts and littering.

"It seems that no one is listening to our concerns," Beal says. "The citizens that live within the city limits of Bedford would not like it if this trail was going through their back yards."

The groups says they are not against exercise or the use of trails, but they want organizers to realize they want their property rights respected.

"There are better uses of our tax money," Beal added. "Which is another re-occurring theme to our opposition. We're simply don't want those that use these trails in our back yards or wondering around on our property. It is worrisome".

For more information about S.T.O.P., contact Beal at (812) 279-3975.

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