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Council gives initial approval to vacate downtown alley

Mar. 15—ANDERSON — A divided Anderson City Council has given tentative approval for the vacating of a downtown alley requested by Jerrard and Lisa Oakley.

The council Thursday passed through two of three required readings of the ordinance to vacant the alley between 12th and Chase streets.

The council voted 5-3 for approval of the request, with council members Ollie H. Dixon, Tiffany Harless and Joe Newman casting "no" votes.

The council will consider final approval at its April meeting.

The Oakleys requested the vacating of the alley last year, but it had been tabled by the council since last May.

Lisa Oakley said the couple only wants to vacate the alley on property they own.

Harless said she drove the alley and wasn't sure if a fire truck could drive down the alley.

"Alleys are not meant for use by the general public," she said.

Harless asked about a property in the 300 block of West 12th Street. Lisa Oakley said it is located at the corner of two alleys, so access should not be a problem.

Oakley said the couple plans to put gates on both sides of the vacated alley, which prompted a concern by Councilman Jeff Freeman.

Freeman was concerned about the fire department having access to the alley if there was an emergency run.

Jerrard Oakley said the gates would be unlocked.

Greg Winkler, executive director of the Anderson Economic Development Department, said alleys are designed to access to the adjacent properties and not intended to be a thoroughfare.

A local resident asked why the Oakleys could not put a fence around both their properties and keep the alley open.

"Why would we want to (have) two fenced properties?" Lisa Oakley said. "We plan on planting trees on the property."

Paula Dalton, who resides in the 1800 block of Lincoln Street, spoke against vacating the alley.

She said closing the alley would cause harm to other area residents.

Dalton said she uses the alley for trash pickup and to walk to the downtown area.

Cheryl Horning was concerned the council might be setting a precedent by vacating the alley and was concerned about future requests.

"Downtown alleys lend to the historic designation," said another resident who lives on 12th Street.

"It's a public right of way," she said. "I use that alley."

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.