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Civil dispute leads to city concerns

As a visual aid, City Mayor Jerry Jordan presented this photo showing both Clark’s fence and the iron stakes in question. Whether these stakes are on Clark’s property, the city’s right-of-way, or Rhymer’s property is to be determined. Photo by Jerry Jordan

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Acorn Street resident Patti Clark, age 82, joined the Mountain City Council’s Zoom meeting on Tuesday, January 5, to discuss escalating issues with her neighbor spanning 20 years. Through a chain of related events, now others on Acorn Street are suffering from the consequences. What started as a series of disagreements is now obstructing emergency service access, impacting city work, and inconveniencing Acorn Street residents.

The matter hinges on property rights and right-of-way boundaries. But the main question the council had to consider was whether this is a civil problem or something in which the city should be involved. Making that decision decides who foots the bill for the land survey. Alderman Laurence Keeble expressed his opinion that this is not a city issue. The other council members agreed, stating paying for private surveys “opens a can of worms.”

Clark’s grievances range from mild annoyances to alleged illegal activities, but she has no tangible proof implicating her neighbor. According to Clark, it all started when her neighbor and city employee, Mike Rhymer, started parking his large truck in her backyard and then began parking where people in her residence back up their vehicles. Now Clark reports that he installed three iron stakes, which block access to her home. Her displaced vehicle now sits on the street, which other residents have complained blocks access to their homes. Clark also claims that Rhymer ruined her bushes and threateningly fired a firearm in city limits in front of her grandchildren.

City Attorney George Wright stepped in to explain prior information on the case. Former Mayor Kevin Parsons had worked on this issue and reported that Clark’s relatively recent fence sits on both a main waterline and the right-of-way. They believe it needs to move back two feet. Clark acknowledges Parsons had been in contact with her but says she has spent $13,000 on it, does not believe they could get out of the carport, and cannot afford to move it.

“There is a problem with the waterline,” said Vice Mayor Jerry Horne. “If the waterline bursts, with your fence where it’s at, there’s no way that Mr. Hook could bring his crew in there without probably destroying your fence. You’re never supposed to really ever put a permanent structure over a main waterline.”

Mayor Jordan agreed to contact Clark’s surveyor, Todd Grayson, and see if he can shift the job to a higher priority to expedite the process and possibly drop the price. According to officials, they cannot take further action until the results come in. To listen to the Mountain City Council meeting recording, visit the city website.