Adams County removes fence at controversial lake

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Adams County workers have removed a fence barring public access to the boat ramp at Thornburg Lake.

The act was in response to a 3-2 vote Monday by the Adams County Board of Supervisors to remove a section of the fence for the benefit of the public.

&uot;If that it is a public lake — which I strongly believe it is — I strongly say they should not fence it up,&uot; said Supervisor Lynwood Easterling.

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An unknown person put up a fence several weeks ago that spans the length of the lakebed.

The public or private nature of the lake and its only access — Thornburg Lake Road — are currently being battled in court with Monday’s action only adding to the debate.

County resident Spanky Felter said his only concern was that the supervisors did not do a more complete job of removing the fence.

&uot;I think they ought to have taken (the fence) all down. I really do,&uot;&160;Felter said, who added people often fish along the lakebed which the fence prohibited.

Even though the water level at the lake is low right now Felter said in &uot;the water has always been right up to the road in that lake.&uot;

Area landowners A. Vidal Davis, William Johnson, Mike Mikell and Big River Farms Inc., filed a lawsuit against the board of supervisors this summer after the board declared Thornburg Lake Road public. Citing an ongoing problem with vandalism, the landowners say they just want to protect their property.

&uot;People who don’t own property view things differently, said J.W. Seibert an attorney representing the landowners. &uot;They have a different perspective.&uot;

But&160;Felter says residents have been able to fish at the lake for years, and they do not want to lose that privilege.

&uot;It’s been public before (the landowners) bought it. It’s been public before they were born, and it’s just the way it ought to be,&uot; Felter said. &uot;They ought to think of other people too.&uot;

While Seibert argues that the supervisors can not declare the road despite its past use because they never officially declared the road public in its minutes, never declared that they would maintain it and never approved the construction of the boat ramp on what Seibert views is private property.

They do not have the money to condemn the property for the public so &uot;they try to grab with the pretense it has always been a public road,&uot; Seibert said.

He also argues the public has the trespass across private property to even reach the lake.

&uot;Even when the (lake) water’s up there is a strip of land between the edge of the road and the edge of the water,&uot; Seibert said. &uot;Thornburg Lake Road has never accessed Thornburg Lake.&uot;

Attorneys will present their cases Monday Nov. 27, in Adams&160;County Circuit Court.

Since the landowners filed suit, Adams County workers also posted a sign prohibiting littering at the lake while landowners have added signs to discourage trespassing, Easterling said.