06/29/04 — Mt. Olive sued over alley designation

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Mt. Olive sued over alley designation

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 29, 2004 1:57 PM

Rick Kraft has sued the town of Mount Olive in an effort to establish that he owns an alley beside the Kraft photography studio.

His lawyer, Jeffrey Gray of Raleigh, filed the suit in Wayne Superior Court. It claims that the previous owners of the alley never offered it for dedication to the town, and the town has no record of ever having accepted ownership.

The suit seeks to "quiet a title." Gray said that is an old English common law term to quiet a dispute over property when there is a legal question about the chain of ownership.

A dispute over the alley came to a head when the Mount Olive Town Board voted to not allow the Krafts to close it to vehicles on the east side of the Kraft Studio building on James Street. Town Attorney Carroll Turner told the board he discovered a 1926 plat in which Ben Southerland dedicated the alley to the town of Mount Olive as a public right-of-way.

But the lawsuit says there is no notice on the plat that the alley is a public right-of-way. It says the alley is not specifically located on the plat and appears to be shown for illustrative prupose only.

"The plat appears to have been recorded for the purpose of showing lots owned by the estate in downtown Mount Olive. There is no indication on the plat that it was intended to offer the alley for dedication as a public right-of-way," he said.

The suit claims the plat was not signed by the owners of the property at the time, the Ben W. Southerland Estate. It says the plat was signed only by the surveyor, who is without authority in North Carolina to "create a public right-of-way across a third person's property simply by recording a plat."

Kraft said in April that he and his wife can feel the building shake when a truck hits the wall trying to turn into the narrow alley. They said vehicles, large and small, still try to come through. They said they are worried about the liability.