Monday evening the Plymouth Common Council heard the request of Audrey Blessman at 116 South Liberty Street to use a gravel path on city owned property on the east side of the historic footbridge off East LaPorte Street as a dedicated alley. Her idea is to use the path for access to the rear Garden Court apartments on Pennsylvania Avenue and to the garages of a couple homes on Liberty Street.
Audrey continued to go on about the alley and Mayor Senter finally asked her, “Why are we doing this?” She said, “Because the city has an ordinance that says when ever possible, they will provide an alley behind lots.”
City Attorney Sean Surrisi shared some incite. He said he felt bad for sending her down this path. Continuing the attorney said about a year ago she wanted to know how to vacate an alley.
Mrs. Blessman said, “My request about this has nothing to do with my property. This is specifically just for that,” as she was referring to the new dedicated alley she was requesting.
Sean said this could be viewed as a separate issue, regardless of the existing alley that is immediately to the north of her where there is a current issue.
Councilman Greg Compton asked the city attorney to explain why the discussion was happening. Surrisi said it had to do with her request to vacate the alley next to her home. He said the deed she presented for her property did not show any utility easement. The city’s Street Superintendent told him all the years he has worked for the city, they never maintained the alley or plowed it. The Utility Superintendent told Surrisi there is a city sewer in the alley although he couldn’t find any documentation.
Compton said there appears to be a fence built over the current alley way. Surrisi said he should have ordered a title search but told the building commissioner it was ok to issue a fence permit to Mrs. Blessman. The attorney said the fence caused the neighbors to get up-in-arms and Garden Court engaged Fred Jones to be their attorney and did a title search and found in the late 1800’s the city council dedicated the area as an alley easement. The easement has been on the property records up until about 20 years ago when the last phrase of the legal description was mistakenly left off the deed. Surrisi said the deed was transferred one more time before being transferred to Mrs. Blessman without the reference to the alley.
McKesson Title found there was an error in the title insurance where the alley easement was left off.
The city attorney said, “I was satisfied that I made a mistake telling Keith to issue the fence permit and explained all this with my apologies to Mrs. Blessman when the city revoked the fence permit.” Surrisi said, “I have encouraged her to remove the fence, but she wanted to have this discussion with you. She sees some benefits if the city were to vacate the alley and she could enhance her property that would have some benefits to it.”
In order to get some resolution, the Plymouth City Attorney filed a suit with the Circuit Court asking for an injunction and to remove the fence and also a determination to reform the deed for her property to reflect the easement that was accidently left off. That hearing date has been set for December 7th.
After knowing the city was revoking the fence permit Mrs. Blessman has enhanced the fence. She told the City Council her request Monday evening wasn’t about the fence; it was about getting the back alley dedicated by the city.
The discussion continued and finally councilman Greg Compton motioned to table her request until the issue is settled in court. The council approved tabling the request by a vote of 6 to 1 with councilman Jeff Houin abstaining from the vote.