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A legal dispute has emerged about the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s plan to demolish the Joyes Station Road overpass to accommodate the ongoing widening of Interstate 64 between Shelbyville and Simpsonville.
The overpass links the now-closed Joyes Station near its intersection with Brunerstown Road, and the design for I-64 calls for its removal. But the owner of the property adjacent to that overpass, Joseph Pike Jr., has not agreed to sell any of its holdings, Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger said.
“There has been ongoing litigation between the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the property owner, Jorita LLC [Pike], for some time now,” Rothenburger said.
The suit names Joseph Pike Jr., who lives in Edgewood, as executor of the estate of Mary Rita Pike, who died in April 2012.
The transportation cabinet filed a petition in Shelby Circuit Court last October, citing imminent domain and seeking condemnation of the property, and last week a ruling by Judge Charles Hickman gave the state the right to buy Pike’s 64-acre parcel for $1.088 million.
Imminent domain allows the government to seize private property for public use, following just compensation or payment to the property owner. The property owner has constitutional guarantees of a court hearing and payment of fair market value.
Pike’s attorney, Sam Carl, said his client does not dispute that an old, abandoned house on the property should be condemned, but that Pike, or the Transportation Cabinet for that matter, does have the right to reject the amount set as fair market value by the master commissioner.
“He [Pike] may think it’s not enough, or they [state] may think it’s too much,” Carl said.
“This case is far from over.”
Master Commissioner Todd Davis, who has to sign the deed on property in such situations, said imminent domain is fairly rare.
“Usually the property owner and the government are able to work something out,” he said.
Davis said he has not encountered any cases that did not involve a public roadway.
“I have only seen it in cases of roadway acquisition; I had a few connected with the bypass and with Boone Station,” he said.
Rothenburger said no one has lived for years on the Pike property. The 2-story house at 1198 Joyes Station Road is dilapidated, with holes in it big enough to expose the inside to the elements, and huge trash piles and numerous dead trees and tangled undergrowth. It sits on a hill overlooking I-64 to the south, with Martinrea’s parking lot visible behind the house across a huge field. The parcel had been targeted a few years ago as one of the parcel’s the proposed Harley-Davidson plant.
Susan Chaplin of Louisville, attorney for the Transportation Cabinet, did not return phone calls from The Sentinel-News.
“It’s the state’s intention to demo the bridge and not replace it,” Rothenburger said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Shelby County Fiscal Court, when an item about closing Joyes Station Road came up on the agenda. “But we have to close that section of road first.
Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for the Transportation Cabinet, said that step is necessary.
“Joyes Station Road is a county road,” she said. “The bridge over I-64 will be removed after the county road is officially closed at that location. After the contractor removes the bridge, they will begin work on adding two new lanes in the median of I-64. [The] Barrier wall will also be constructed, like is taking place in other sections of the project.”
The overpass was constructed around 1960 when I-64 was built and allowed Joyes Station to connect from U.S. 60 south to Brunerstown Road. The road was closed to through traffic in the 1990s when Norfolk Southern Railroad built its vehicle mixing center. There is no obvious reason to rebuild the overpass.
“It’s foolish to build a million-dollar bridge over an interstate for no reason,” Road Supervisor Carl Henry said. “And besides there’s no homes. There’s nothing back there.”
That reasoning will be one thing that will be taken into consideration by two people who the fiscal court has appointed to review how the road being closed would impact the residents in that area.
The two “viewers,” Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden and Shelby County Fire Chief Bobby Cowherd, will serve as impartial examiners, who will determine whether closing the bridge would cause any hardship to residents, Rothenburger said, explaining that is a required action when a bridge or a section of road containing a bridge is scheduled to be closed.
The viewers will present their findings at a public hearing set for 9:30 a.m. Feb. 19, just before the next fiscal court meeting.
The public meeting will give the public a chance to voice their thoughts on the matter, Rothenburger said. And Henry said the road would be closed right after the meeting.
“I have already put signs out there [Joyes Station Road] with information about that,” Henry said.
Also at the meeting, magistrates approved:
§ A second reading of an ordinance relating to imposing penalties on those who hold unsupervised parties at which juveniles consume alcohol or controlled substances.
§ A second reading of an ordinance for a zone change from neighborhood business to medium density residential for a single family property at 204 Sunset Way.
§ Declaring a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria as surplus property.
§ The reappointment of Scott Merchant to the Shelby County Triple S Planning and Zoning Commission√