CONDEMNATION: Berry speaks out on City’s plan to sue

CONDEMNATION: Berry speaks out on City’s plan to sue

PHOTO: The City of Rainsville has been seeking to replace the aging bridge on Chavies Road. Now the council is pursuing condemnation on a piece of property needed for the right-of-way for the project. We talked to the property owner today regarding the legal action. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Marla Jones, Reporter

RAINSVILLE, Ala. — In an exclusive interview with Southern Torch, Rainsville citizen, Billy Berry spoke to us regarding his family’s dispute with the City of Rainsville over right-of-way acquisitions for the Chavies Bridge Project. The Berry family owns the disputed land (Tract 3 and Tract 4) that the City of Rainsville seeks to obtain through a condemnation lawsuit for the new proposed Chavies Bridge.  

There has been some dispute as to what the actual offer or offers were. Southern Torch has previously reported that Rainsville Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt and city attorney Nikki Scott had informed the City Council that the City had offered the Berry’s $10,000 for their property but were turned down. Since the special meeting to approve the lawsuit against the Berry’s, Lingerfelt has declined to offer more details concerning any offers.

Councilmember Marshall Stiefel confirmed to Southern Torch that Lingerfelt had privately informed the council that the Berry’s turned down a $10,000 offer from the City. According to Berry, Stiefel contacted him after the City decided to move forward with the lawsuit to ask him why the family would turn down $10,000. Berry stated that if they had been offered $10,000 initially, “he would have jerked their arm off.”

In the sit down interview with Southern Torch, Berry produced a letter addressed to him from Mayor Lingerfelt offering to pay him $500 for his land. Additionally, he provided a similar letter addressed to his father, Roger Berry, from Lingerfelt offering $1,100 for the other track. Berry said they felt their land, the inconvenience of the project, and the alteration of the driveway to their houses was worth more than a collective $1,600. The Berry’s were not offered $10,000 until they sought legal counsel.

According to Berry, several people have contacted them urging the family to accept the City’s initial offer. The list of visitors includes longtime Rainsville resident and dentist, Dr. Marvin Barron, however, Berry said that he the only correspondence from the City has been the letter from Lingerfelt. He mentioned that Stiefel was the only council member who had reached out to him personally.

Berry added that he was not trying to hinder progress, but that he wanted what was due to him and his family. He said he feels that the mayor and the council should have had a meeting for all property owners or talked with them personally about acquiring their property for the bridge project.

Follow Southern Torch for further updates as this story develops and proceeds to court for a final verdict.

One Response
  1. My sympathies are completely with the Berry family on this Chavies bridge issue. I hope all Rainsville citizens remember all of these disheartening issues that keep making an appearance in our city. The recurrence of secret, illegal meetings, personal and hidden agendas, and lies being told to the citizens of Rainsville by the mayor and certain city council members who are in his special following has become alarming. Where is it going to end ? Elected officials and city employees acting exactly as they want and saying whatever serves their purpose, be it right or wrong, true or false, has become business as usual for the city of Rainsville since our last election. It is difficult to take anything they say at face value. One feels as though it is of critical importance that they personally check everything they are told with another source to be sure what they have been told is the truth or a lie. A few months back I read about a city that fired their mayor and the entire city council for just such shenanigans as we are all witnessing with this new administration. I’ll see if I can find that article . . . . . . . .

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