06/01/05 — Jury to decide who controls Mount Olive alley

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Jury to decide who controls Mount Olive alley

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 1, 2005 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A jury will decide who controls an alley in downtown Mount Olive, the town or the owners of adjacent property.

Judge Paul Jones decided Tuesday in Wayne Superior Court that the case involving the town and Rick and Debbie Kraft deserves to be heard by a jury.

The Krafts live behind their business on James Street in downtown Mount Olive and want to close an alley on the east side of their building.

But the Mount Olive Town Board voted last summer to prevent the Krafts from closing the alley to traffic. Fire officials had raised the issue of access and Town Attorney Carroll Turner said the town should control the lane.

Turner said he investigated the history of the properties involved and traced references to the alley as far back as 1904.

"When they laid out the town they must have put the alley in and laid the town out around it," Turner said today. "It apparently was one of the earliest things laid off down town. I knew it was old. I just didn't know how old."

After the town board's decision, the Krafts sued. It took almost a year for the case to reach court.

After hearing from both sides, Jones ruled that there are so many issues involved that he believes 12 people ought to determine the issue.

Town Manager Ray McDonald said this morning he was disappointed in Jones' decision and that continuing the case wasn't fair to either side.

"It's not right, dragging things on," McDonald said. "The legal system is not working the way it ought to."

Rick Kraft said that at least the matter got to court. He said he was happy just to be able to present his side of the issue.

"We'll have a jury of our peers to hear both sides, and they will decide who is right and who is wrong," Kraft said today. "If we can tell the people who live in the town about property falling into disuse and becoming a liability, I think the people will say, 'That makes sense.'"

The Krafts wanted to close the alley, saying the building is not safe from cars and trucks that sometimes bump into it while trying to negoiate the alley, which is just under nine feet wide.