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The Daily



09-17-03: Land ownership still not proven


ROCKFORD — Village officials are baffled about who owns a piece of land along U.S. 33 known as Hedges Cemetery.
Rockford American Legion officials are interested in acquiring the 2-acre parcel, but village officials who met Tuesday night said they still are unable to clear up ownership of the tract. Officials have been talking about the issue for two months.
Two weeks ago, village council members appeared to distance themselves from the issue, saying they could not transfer land they do not own. But The Daily Standard found soon after that the land is listed with the Mercer County Tax Map office as being owned by the town.
Solicitor Judy Koesters agreed to do some additional research on the property. County records indicate several Hedges family members held the property through the years, but she said there is no clear transfer of the property to the town. Without a deed, village officials could not sell the land, she said.
But some council members expressed interest in looking into a legal proceeding called adverse possession. Through such a process, the town would seek to have a judge declare the village the owner of the land.
The town has maintained the plot for years. The only apparent user of the green space is the American Legion post, which maintains a memorial there and holds annual services there on Memorial Day.
Also Tuesday, council members agreed to allow the Subway sandwich shop on Main Street to add a banner-type sign to a bracket on a village-owned light pole. The business owners had asked the village to intervene because there is no adequate signage marking the restaurant for people traveling from the north.
Village Administrator Jeff Long said the sign is allowed based on the town’s zoning regulations, but the rules do not discuss whether signs can hang on village property.
Council members agreed to allow the sign to be installed as long as it is well-maintained.
In other business, council members:
• Passed an emergency resolution to seek bids for a sanitary sewer construction project to assist site development at the construction site of the new Parkway Local Schools building. The work is estimated to cost $160,000 for 3,300 feet of storm sewer lines. The village is picking up the tab but expects to recoup its investment through income taxes collected from the workers during construction and the school staff after the building opens.
• Learned the town is having two separate street lighting problems. An unidentified short is keeping a set of four village-owned light poles dark, Long said. An electrician will be consulted if the problem is not solved soon, he said. The town also is having a difficult time getting Dayton Power & Light Co. to respond to replace some burnt out bulbs in street lights. Several contact telephone numbers have been disconnected or lead only to recorded messages, Long said.
• Agreed to hire Springer & Sons Tree Service, Celina, for $500 to remove a large oak tree and stump at 808 W. Columbia St. The tree has become so large it is causing property damage. The town, property owner and village tree commission will share the costs.
• Agreed to a change in the income tax collection process to meet a recommendation by the state auditor’s office during the most recent audit. Tax returns prepared by the tax administrator as part of his duties as a private-sector accountant now will be examined by Mayor Bob King.
• Heard from council member Amy Joseph that some people are interested in replacing the sidewalks in front of their homes or adding walks where none exist. Village officials agreed to schedule a public meeting to gauge public interest.


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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822