Halifax County is preparing a response to a petition filed in Halifax County Circuit Court through its attorney, as confirmed by Scott Simpson, county administrator on Wednesday.
“We will be filing an answer to the lawsuit,” said Simpson, who declined to provide any further details.
The response had not been filed as of press time Thursday.
Steven A. Hansen and Amy J. Gautier filed the petition on June 1 in Halifax County Circuit Court, requesting the relocation of a 50-foot-wide access road on their property — the former Wilson Memorial School — created by the former landowner, Halifax County.
The easement, according to Simpson, has been in its current location since 2009 when the property was deeded to the Wilson Memorial Ruritan Club.
When donating the school and 15.5 acres of land to the Ruritan club in 2009, supervisors agreed to reserve a 2-acre tract and a 50-foot side easement from the site for the purpose of establishing a recycling and collection center.
The plat shows details of the 50-foot ingress and egress easement that leads down to the acres owned by the county, in which the convenience center sits.
In January of 2016, the late Jean Goodman approached Halifax County Board of Supervisors about turning ownership back to the county.
But, with the county not having any use for the property, the Ruritan Club ultimately sold the property to Hansen and Gautier to use as their home.
With the transfer of the property, it was written in the deed, “This conveyance is made subject all valid and enforceable reservations, restrictions, conditions and easements of record.”
Use of the easement has been limited from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., the times in which the dumpsters are open, but the plaintiff’s petition alleges that members of the public use the easement “at all hours, thereby disturbing the peace and harmony of the petitioner’s home.”
They also allege in their petition that they’ve spoken with the appropriate authorities about trespassers, but that “no one has ever been arrested.”
The petition also speaks of the potholes and broken edges on the asphalt roadway that are caused by those taking their trash to the dumpsters.
“Although the petitioners have complained to the appropriate authorities, the roadway has not been repaired,” as written in the petition.
It also states the county has instead filled the holes with gravel rather than fix them with asphalt.
The petition also says members of the public have drove on the plaintiffs’ property to avoid the potholes.
“Due to the manner in which the respondent is addressing the issues that arise from the easement, the respondent is maintaining a nuisance there,” the petition reads.
The plaintiffs are requesting the county move the easement away from their home and onto or south of the two-acre parcel.
“They would like the access road to be located on the county’s property rather than as an easement on their property,” Mark Holland of Haymore & Holland, P.C., the attorney representing Hansen and Gautier, said earlier this week.
In order for the parcel not to be landlocked, Simpson said the county owns a strip of land on the left side of the school that connects the dumpster site to Wilson Memorial Trail.
When Hansen and Gautier purchased the property in 2016, the easement had been used as the access road to the recycling and convenience center for seven years, Simpson noted.
He said the other strip of land was “never intended to be the access road.”
But, Hansen and Gautier argue in their petition that relocating the access road would “not result in economic damage to the parties in interest; and there will be no undue hardship created by the proposed relocation.”