Town acquires road for trails

CAROGA — Morey Road extension, which has been a battle for the town board for many years, now officially belongs to the town of Caroga, and can begin to be used for recreational purposes as soon as work such as clearing trees is complete.

There were three stipulation agreements that needed to be signed by the judge that the town received in March from Dunn and Dunn Law Firm, however, due to the pandemic, courts were closed causing a delay in the processes for several months. Supervisor Scott Horton said they appeared in front of the judge two weeks ago for those three stipulation agreements which the judge signed on Thursday transferring the parcel of land to the town.

“The nightmare is over,” Horton said.

For several years, the town had been attempting to gain access to land through eminent domain. The land the town had been attempting to gain access to for so many years is approximately 15 feet wide and 1,075 feet long, and was privately owned by six separate residents. The town now has access to that land, which can now be used as a recreational trail and a popular destination for snowmobile riders, and for those in the Nick Stoner Trailers Snowmobile Club. The trail will give riders access to other towns and will benefit tourism.

The issue with the trail had been with one of the owners, Charles and Helen Johnson, who had put up “no trespassing” signs preventing anyone from accessing the trail.

This is the second eminent domain procedure the town had attempted for the land. The town withdrew the first eminent domain filing when faced with challenges, including an appeal made by landowners challenging the attempted seizure of land on several procedural grounds, including that the town didn’t publicize the eminent domain seizure for the required five days.

The proceeding was brought before the Supreme Court, and in June 2018, the judge dismissed the petition since the town withdrew the eminent domain filing.

At a town board meeting in September 2019, the town passed a resolution to move forward with a second eminent domain law proceeding for the Morey Road Extension trail project.

“I’m elated and relieved,” Horton said.

He said the both the town and the Nick Stoner Trailers Snowmobile Club had been frustrated for several months, and he is “relieved” that they now have access to the trail.

“I’m happy for the snowmobile club,” Horton said.

He said there is a lot of damage done to that area, in which trees and brush will have to be cleared, but the snowmobiles should be able to start riding the trail this winter.

By Patricia Older