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February 26, 2014

ALDOT begins condemnation process against land owners

Area part of County Road 222 interchange project

GOOD HOPE — Two owners of local property are being litigated by the Alabama Department of Transportation in the County Road 222 interchange project for refusing to sale additional acreage after new guidelines were recently set in place that would deny access to the interchange.

Siblings Janice Bennett and James Higgerson, who both live in Tennessee, own a track of land in the Good Hope city limits on Higgerson Road. The pair sold 2.39 acres to ALDOT apart of the ATRIP project to complete the Interstate-65 interchange ramp in 2009 for $149,787 after a two-year process. Since 2009, new federal guidelines were implemented for the access ramps, causing ALDOT to seek additional acreage from the Higgerson property, ALDOT spokesperson Rebecca White said.

“Out of the 16 tracks there is only one track of property where the owner is not cooperating. The owners will receive fair market value compensation for the land,” White said. “Because the ATRIP project is on the interstate, ALDOT takes the lead on the project and filed for condemnation on the property”

Mayor Corey Harbison said the City of Good Hope has nothing to do with the case; it’s a state issue.

“From my understanding, what I was told by the owners is that the state originally bought part of the property for the interchange, but they were still having a 60-foot access front along County Road 222,” Harbison said. “Now the guidelines have changed and the stances on the land are further back. They do have access, but it’s off on Leonard Road, but if the case goes through they will not have access to County Road 222.”

Cullman County Engineer Jon Brunner said although the Cullman County Commission started the County Road 222 interchange project, the state is now in charge.

White said a hearing will take place on Friday in circuit court where a motion to dismiss the case has been filed. She said she’d rather not comment on potential outcomes of the case because it would only be speculation.

Calls by The Times to Janice Bennett were not returned before deadline.

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