Aldermen vote to sell right-of-ways to abutting property owners

The Board of Aldermen voted Monday night to sell several city-owned right-of-ways to abutting property owners in the Colonial Avenue area.

The issue had come up last month but the aldermen tabled it because a number of neighbors said they were confused about the proposal.

At the Board of Aldermen’s meeting Monday night, the aldermen voted to transfer three right-of-ways: Two on Colonial Avenue and one on Riverside Drive.

The two on Colonial Avenue will be sold as they are to whichever abutting property owner is the successful bidder in a sealed bid process.

The aldermen voted to divide up the Riverside Drive right-of-way and sell it to the four property owners who use it to access their homes because the neighbors asked them to do that.

The right-of-ways serve as an access way to several properties in that area of the city, and at last month’s meeting residents asked the aldermen what would happen to their access if a neighbor bought it.

At Monday’s meeting, City Attorney Jonathan Berchem said the property owners have deeded rights to use the right-of-ways to get to their homes. That won’t change regardless of who the owner is, he said.

The city acquired the slivers of property through foreclosure. In 2009 the city had moved to abandon the little pieces of land, but due to a technicality the land could not be abandoned but had to be sold.

The matter came up because neighbors sometimes got into arguments about use of the accessways and police didn’t know how to deal with it.

Assistant City Attorney Debra Kelly said last month that the city had no desire to maintain the pieces of land and therefore thought it best to be rid of them.

Some residents who spoke at last month’s Board of Aldermen’s meeting said they didn’t want to own the property either and wanted things kept as they’ve been.

The Riverside Drive residents, however, several of whom spoke Monday night, said they were okay with dividing the piece of land and each buying a part.

Alderman Ray Vitali asked what would happen if no one bid on the other parcels.

Berchem said, “Then we would still own them.”