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- Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 17:53
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Grapples with right-of-way vacations of town-owned waterfront land
Ret. Col. John Biemeck of Colonial Beach presented a video history of Colonial Beach at the August Planning Commission meeting. The presentation was full of interesting information on this riverfront town and included bits of trivia such as a total of 2 million people visited Colonial Beach on the St. John’s steamboat in the early 1900s. The last steamboat docked in 1933.
Biemeck bemoaned the town’s decisions in the late 1980s to tear down abandoned buildings on the boardwalk that had once served as visitor attractions, such as hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, which, he believes “ended any chance of the boardwalk coming back.”
With that history lesson in mind, Planning Commissioners then heard from property owners Cornelius Little and Adam Leeman both of whom
filed an application requesting a vacation of the right-of-way of a portion of the town-owned alley that runs between their property and Monroe Bay, formerly known as Scenic Drive. Adjoining neighbors, Milleson, Speight and Tate have already been granted vacations of land by Town Council, despite recommendations against the vacations forwarded by the Planning Commission.
Little noted “Everybody else that owns property has bought theirs,” when asked why he wished to purchase the waterfront land from the town. Leeman noted he wished “to protect the integrity of my own property.”
The results of a roll call vote on the request by Little showed a 3-3 split among Commissioners with Chairwoman Cynthia Misicka, David Coombes, and Ed Grant voting in favor of the abandonment and Maureen Holt, Margaret McMullen and Kent Rodenheaver voting against the abandonment.
Coombes noted he felt the issues was one of “precedent versus practicality” and “the property is totally unusable by the public.” Misicka agreed saying “This is a fairly unique piece of property. It makes sense for this body to approve this vacation.”
Holt believes “We’ve set a terrible precedent., and noted that “Now all these people want to protect their interest.”
Commissioners then agreed to send the vacation requests made by Little and Leeman to Town Council with “no recommendation,” from the Planning Commission.
The Commission then heard from adjacent property owners to a town-owned alleyway between 9th and 10th Streets. Property owners Betty Tiches, James and Demetrios Tiches and Dorothy Almassy have all made application requesting a vacation of the town-owned alleyway. Adjoining property owner Robert Dessimoz had initially agreed to the application by the Tiches, but has since changed his mind, saying “I would have put in to buy it.”
In response to Rodenheaver, who asked “Are you going to be injured by this vacation?” Dessimoz replied “I didn’t know that by taking my name off the application, I couldn’t buy the property.”
Town Attorney, Andrea Erard reported that at issue was the vacation of the town-owned right-of-way of the alley and after the right-of-way has been vacated, “requests to purchase the land goes before council.” Erard continued “Anyone can put a bid on it. To whom it is sold is a separate matter.”
Commissioners voted unanimously on all three requests for vacation to forward a favorable recommendation to Town Council.