Residents discuss 83 extension

By Barbara Grider
Staff Writer
Posted 7/2/07

Almost 200 people from central Baldwin County attended a public hearing on the proposed four-lane County Road 83 project June 25. The meeting was held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Baldwin County Central Annex building in Robertsdale. Officials with …

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Residents discuss 83 extension


Almost 200 people from central Baldwin County attended a public hearing on the proposed four-lane County Road 83 project June 25. The meeting was held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Baldwin County Central Annex building in Robertsdale. Officials with Baldwin County and the Alabama Department of Transportation were on hand to answer questions from those in attendance.

The portion of the project under discussion will extend and four-lane the county road from the Foley Beach Express north to County Road 64 . Once completed, the four-lane road will extend from the Foley Beach Express to I-10, a 13-mile project that is estimated to carry a $50 price tag.

For some who live along the rural road, the emotional price is even higher as they will either be forced to move and see their homes demolished or see a busy four-lane road close to their homes.

Large maps were spread out on tables and people milled around, looking for their property. Pink highlighted symbols on the maps indicated houses that will have to be removed to make room for the 200 feet of roadway needed for the project.

Lynn Hinote was concerned about her grandmother’s house. Louise Davenport, who is 85, said she moved onto acreage that has been in her family for generations. She has lived in her house at the corner of Berner Road and CR 83, for over 80 years.

Although Davenport said she was relieved to see that her house isn’t in the path of the construction, she was saddened at the idea that four large oak trees, which she said were planted at least 85 years ago, will be taken down.

“Those old trees along the road have been there a long time. I don’t want to lose them,” she said.

Carol Lynn Fetterhoff, who lives on Oak Ridge Drive, was also fortunate. Although Oak Ridge Drive (which is located in the sharp curve where Silverhill Avenue becomes CR 83, will be in the path of the new road, which will continue north through undeveloped land behind Oak Ridge Drive, her house was spared.

Looking at the map, she pointed to her house and said, “They will take about 20 feet in front of my property. I have horses, so grass is so important to me. I’m glad that it is only going to take some off the front,” she said.

Fetterhoff said when she bought the property, she was informed that the county had plans to someday extend CR 83 north through the neighborhood.

Tana Brooks isn’t relieved at all because the proposed road will go right through the house she had built on 3.5 acres on Oak Ridge Drive. She said she will lose the entire parcel, as well as the house she shares with her 8-year-old son.

Brooks said when she signed a purchase agreement with Hamm Enterprises for the land in January 2004, neither Quitman Hamm nor representatives of the real estate company handling the sale, Ryals Real Estate, informed her that a road might be built through the property.

Brooks also said that she never received any notices from Baldwin County about meetings to discuss the road. She surmised that notices were sent to Hamm, because he holds the deed to the property.

“When I asked him about it, after I read about it in the paper, he said he didn’t know anything about a road or the meetings,” she said.

Hamm was also at the June 25 meeting. When asked when he first knew about the possibility of a road going through the land he sold, he said, “When did I hear? Well, I’ve been hearing about it for a while but I kind of doubted it was going to happen,” he said.

Hamm said he sold acreage on Oak Ridge Drive to “half a dozen” people, but did not say how many were sold using a purchase agreement like the one he executed with Brooks.

Brooks said her next door neighbors, a young couple with a baby, were also paying Hamm and when they learned about the road, they simply abandoned the property.

“They told me they were going to ‘cut their losses’ before they put too much money into the land,” she said.

According to engineers for the county, evaluation of property and compensation for property owners is tentatively scheduled for the section of road from CR 32 to the Foley Beach Express in the fall of 2007, with construction scheduled to begin in the fall of 2008.

The segment from CR 32 to Highway 90 (which includes Brooks’ house) is scheduled to be evaluated and property owners compensated in the fall of 2008, with construction planned for the summer of 2010. The portion of the project from Highway 90 to CR 64 is not scheduled for evaluation until 2009 with construction set for 2011.

Wesley Pennington, who oversees right-of-way issues for Baldwin County, said determining compensation for Brooks and others who are living on the property while purchasing, it will depend on what kind of contract was used when the purchase was made.

“That’s going to be a real issue. It depends on the wording of the contract,” he said.