11/01/05 — Judge decides Mount Olive alley will remain open

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Judge decides Mount Olive alley will remain open

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 1, 2005 1:50 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A judge has decided that an alley behind Kraft Studio in Mount Olive belongs to the public and cannot be obstructed.

Rick Kraft sued the town last year in an attempt to establish ownership. He said the alley poses a danger to his property and wanted to close it off to traffic.

Superior Court Judge John Jolly of Raleigh informed lawyers involved in the case Saturday that he had decided the alley was public property.

Jolly said in his memo to the parties in the case that he had determined that the original owner of the property, Ben Southerland, had intended the alley to remain open to the public. He said the town accepted the dedication of the passageway by "implication."

The town has provided water and sewer lines along the alley and continued maintenance on them, and the public has continued to use it for more than 20 years, the judge noted.

People's Bank, located at the opposite end of the alley from Kraft, had joined the town in its defense of keeping the alley open.

Town Attorney Carroll Turner said he was pleased with the verdict.

"It has been used as an alley for 101 years," Turner said.

Town Manager Ray McDonald said the victory is a victory for the public, not just the town.

"It's not about individuals. It's about what is best for the community," McDonald said. "The judge said those with special interests can't overrule the special interests of all of us. I'm glad it's behind us. The town spent right much money on this."

McDonald said all the bills haven't come in from the lawyers, but the lawsuit will probably end up costing the town close to $20,000.

"That is a lot of money wasted, for nothing," said McDonald.

The dispute over the alley came to a head in the spring of 2004 when the town board voted to not permit Kraft to close it to vehicles on the east side of the Kraft Studio building on James Street.

Kraft said they could feel their building shake when a truck would strike the wall trying to turn into the narrow alley and that they were concerned about liability.