City to appeal sidewalk decision

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Cassville City Council is appealing a court decision that would force the municipality to remove a portion of public sidewalk that runs along Main Street.

After consulting with city attorneys, the Cassville Board of Aldermen has chosen to appeal the ruling in the case of J.J. Jackson and Elma Jackson v. the City of Cassville. The Jacksons are represented by Cassville attorney Emory Melton.

The lawsuit centers on the Jacksons' demand that the city remove a sidewalk located in Missouri Department of Transportation right-of-way. The Jacksons claim that the sidewalk is located on property they have maintained for over 40 years.

The sidewalk in question is located below the Jacksons' property and was built in 2002 to create a safe walkway from the Cassville R-IV campus to the Cassville Branch Library.

"In light of the nature of the issue at the center of the lawsuit and the potential repercussions this negative action could have on our citizens, the Cassville Board of Aldermen feel it is in the best interest of the collective citizens of the city, and especially our school-aged children who utilize public sidewalks throughout the city, to pursue a reasonable and just adjudications in this matter," the City Council stated in a prepared news release.

The plaintiffs in the case claim that the easement acquired by the state highway department was for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a state highway.

Last month, Barry County Circuit Court Judge J. Edward Sweeney ruled in favor of the Jacksons and ordered that the city remove the portion of the sidewalk located adjacent to the Jacksons' property.

The sidewalk, which extends from the crosswalk by the school's rock gym to the library building, was built in January of 2002 at a cost of approximately $40,000. Half of the project cost was funded by local businessman Jerry Watley.

In announcing the decision to appeal the judge's decision, the Cassville Board of Aldermen said they fel t it wa s an issue thatrequired review by the Missouri Court of Appeals because the ultimate decision could have far reaching implications for every municipality and county in the State of Missouri.

"Where justice has not been achieved in a given legal decision, your elected leaders feel it is necessary and prudent to continue along legal avenues until an appropriate decision is rendered that reflects upon the greater good of the public they serve," the council stated.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Melton said he was aware of the city's appeal of the case.

"I am rather pleased that the city is appealing the case," said Melton. "If we get it up to the Court of Appeals, it will become a controlling precedent for the entire state."

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