Landowners file suit over lake road

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 6, 2000

Landowners in the&160;Thornburg Lake area have taken their battle for property rights to the next level by filing a lawsuit in Adams County Circuit Court.

A. Vidal Davis, William Johnson, Mike Mikell and Big River Farms Inc. are suing the Adams County Board of Supervisors over its July 19 vote to keep the lake’s only access, Thornburg Lake Road, open to the public.

The board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and &uot;beyond the power of the Adams County Board of Supervisors to make such a decision,&uot; the lawsuit says.

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The road and lake, located in the Anna’s Bottom area of Adams County, has been the center of a recent controversy, with landowners wanting the lake road closed to prevent property damage and county residents wanting it open so they can access the lake for fishing and recreation.

The question of the county’s past maintenance of the roads and whether the lake is a public body of water is also a matter of dispute by local attorneys. County Attorney Marion Smith has argued the lake is a public oxbow lake formed by the Mississippi River, while J.W. Seibert, attorney for the landowners, has argued the land is private because it is a non-navigable body of water isolated from the Mississippi River.

In June Virginia Salmon and Sammy Cauthen voted to make Thornburg Lake Road private for legal reasons and to avoid litigation. Thomas &uot;Boo&uot; Campbell, Lynwood Easterling and Darryl Grennell voted to keep the road public.

&uot;I think the county is going to come out victorious on it personally,&uot; Grennell&160;said of the lawsuit. &uot;In my opinion, Thornburg Lake is a public body of water therefore the public should have access to it.&uot;

The county board voted 3-2 Wednesday to allow Smith to defend the county in the lawsuit, with supervisors voting along the same lines as they did in the vote to keep the road public.

Spanky Felter, a vocal supporter of keeping the lake open to the public, did not have a comment Wednesday about the lawsuit but said it did not surprise him.