Alleys set to change hands?

Plan has county taking roadways for judicial center

BROWNSTOWN

Two town-owned alleys may be turned over to the county to make way for the new Jackson County Judicial Center.

A public hearing recently was conducted during a Brownstown Town Council meeting to educate the council and residents on the pros and cons of the town vacating them.

County Building Commissioner Conner Barnette and county attorney Susan Bevers presented the petition to vacate the two 12-foot alleys on behalf of the board of commissioners.

The east-west alley runs from South Sugar Street to the courthouse annex parking lot, while the north-south alley goes from Cross Street to the annex parking lot.

Once construction starts on the judicial center, the east-west alley would be taken out because it’s on property where the new complex would sit, while the north-south alley will connect to an existing parking lot that will be reconfigured as part of the project.

The county owns the property on both sides of the east-west alley and east of the north-south alley, but the property on the west side of that alley is owned by Michael and Christine Kloppenburg, who operate a business at 121 S. Sugar St. They were the only residents attending the public hearing.

“The main reason (the county is) wanting to vacate is because there are gas lines running through there, which they are going to have to relocate for the building, and you can’t put a building over an alley, so they are just wanting to get this knocked out of the way so they can continue with plans,” Barnette said.

The county will cover the expense of moving the gas and sewer lines as part of the building process.

The council voted 4-0 to have town attorney Rodney Farrow draft an ordinance to vacate both alleys. Councilman Bill Sweeney was absent.

Barnette said having the county’s three courts in Brownstown will bring jobs and people to town, which ultimately would benefit local businesses with more people in the area.

Bids for the judicial center project, which involves the construction of a $12.14 million two-story building at 109 S. Sugar St., are scheduled to be accepted in April with a completion date of no later than November 2018.

It will house both of the county’s superior courts and the circuit court. If a fourth court is added, two courtrooms would be on the first floor, and two would be on the second floor.

With the town vacating the north-south alley, Bevers said half would belong to the Kloppenburgs, and the other half would belong to the county.

Michael Kloppenburg said the only issue he has had in the area is when box trucks or semitrailers pull in and out of a loading dock on the north side of the post office. To access the dock, the trucks have to pull into the alley to be able to back in diagonally.

The trucks have torn up the road at the edge of the alley entrance. One time, a truck got stuck in the ditch along Cross Street.

Michael said the trucks encroaching on their alley doesn’t matter, except for the fact that they tear up the road.

Also, the north part of that alley has a gravel drive connecting to the annex parking lot, and Christine said some people drive through there like it’s a street.

The first reading of the ordinance will be up for consideration at the next council meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Brownstown Town Hall.

If you go

What: Brownstown Town Council meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Brownstown Town Hall, 200 W. Walnut St.

Who: Open to the public

On the agenda: First reading of an ordinance vacating two town-owned alleys

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.