Council moves forward with condemnation

Published 2:15 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Property owner claims action not necessary

The Andalusia City Council Tuesday authorized the mayor and the city’s attorney to initiate condemnation proceedings it says are necessary to repair Devonwood Drive.

The street has been closed since it was damaged by heavy rains and flooding in December.

Mayor Earl Johnson said the city has access to $120,000 in grant funds to repair the damage.

“To get down and do the work, we have to get on property around the area of the problem,” Johnson said. “We have been unable to get the property owner, Mr. John Tisdale, to work with us. We have worked with him to get an easement that quite frankly, will improve his property.

“I recommend we start proceedings to condemn his property, and take an easement before we lose this grant.”

Councilman Kennith Mount made the motion to proceed, and Councilwoman Hazel Griffin seconded. Councilman Will Sconiers and Councilman Ralph Wells voted in support. Councilman Terry Powell was absent.

Contacted Tuesday night, Tisdale said he was not aware of the condemnation vote.

Earlier this week, Tisdale said that the proposed easement had only been mentioned to him in passing.

“I have never seen an easement, nor have I even been approached about an easement,” Tisdale said via email. “During a casual street conversation on South Cotton Street, (Public Works Director) Glynn Ralls mentioned that he was working on the project that had gone from a simple repair where Nathaniel Blount was authorized to proceed (shortly after the road failure) to a bigger project with a grant requiring the purchase or swap for some of my land.

“I told Glynn that I would be happy to work with him or anyone in city hall, but Earl Johnson requires all communication with me to go through my attorney, to the city’s attorney, and then to Earl,” Tisdale wrote. “I told Glynn to put together a written proposal with drawings attached and submit it to my Dothan attorney, and he said he would. Nothing ever happened after that time except that Earl Johnson refused to meet, according to attorney Adam Jones.”

Adam Jones formerly represented Tisdale in Tisdale’s federal lawsuit against the city, in which he claimed he was being singled out in downtown abatement issues because he is a Florida resident. Jones has since withdrawn from the case.

City attorney Mark Christensen said it was his understanding that Tisdale had indicated to city officials he would not grant an easement, so one was not prepared.

Mayor Johnson said Tuesday night he believed that terms of an easement were included in a proposed settlement agreement the city offered in Tisdale federal lawsuit against the city. Tisdale did not sign the agreement.

Tisdale said in an email Tuesday night, “My belief is that there was no mention of Devonwood Drive in the settlement offer prepared by the city in the federal lawsuit concerning abatement.”

The Devonwood property was not included in a copy of the settlement offer provided Tuesday night by Tisdale.