Landowners fence off lake at disputed road

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 18, 2000

With a hearing over the public vs. private status of Thornburg Lake less than a week away, some Adams County residents think someone &uot;jumped the gun&uot; by fencing off a portion of the lake.

&uot;I think they should have waited and let it go to court,&uot; said Spanky Felter. &uot;It looks like they would want to see what the court says before they do anything.&uot;

Landowners in the Thornburg Lake area are suing the Adams County Board of Supervisors for voting 3-2 in June to declare maintain Thornburg Lake Road — the only access to the lake — a public road so the public can access the lake for recreational purposes.

Email newsletter signup

Adams County Circuit Court Judge Forrest &uot;Al&uot; Johnson said he plans to hear arguments in the case around Nov. 27.

Two landowners contacted said they did not know who erected the fence, but they support its construction.

&uot;We’ve got every reason to put a fence on it,&uot; said A. Vidal Davis, one of the landowners. &uot;The only thing public is the road.&uot;

Landowners Davis, William Johnson, Mike Mikell and Big River Farms Inc. have said that since the property surrounding the lake is privately owned, any access to the lake necessitates trespassing. With the situation worsened by vandalism, the landowners are suing to have the road declared private, taking it off county maintenance rolls. &uot;We’re still interested in seeing the road become a private road,&uot; Davis said &uot;It’s a public road leading to nowhere.&uot;

Johnson also said he had not seen or heard about the fence but &uot;if it’s on private property I don’t see what difference it would make.&uot;

Felter said he thinks the fence has been in place for two to three weeks and that it spans about 200 yards of its bank.

&uot;It’s blocking the public from the lake altogether,&uot; Felter said.

Adams County Supervisors Lynwood&160;Easterling and Darryl Grennell said they drove out to see the fence but declined comment because of the pending litigation.

Marion Smith, attorney for the Adams County Board of Supervisors, said people have a right to fence private property, but the question is whether the public has acquired an easement or right-of-way over private property to get to the lake because of past use. The matter involves many interconnected items such as the status of the road and whether the public should have access to the lake &uot;that a court may ultimately have to decide,&uot; Smith said.

Mikell and Big River Farms Inc, the other landowners in the suit, could not be reached for comment.