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Shelby County magistrates voted Tuesday to close the long-dead-end Joyes Station Road despite the protests and concerns of a landowner, a major manufacturing company and a prominent farmer.
The closing at the road’s intersection with Brunerstown Road allows the state Transportation Cabinet to condemn its overpass for the widening project of Interstate 64, just east of Exit 32.
Joyes Station has been abbreviated since Norfolk Southern built its vehicle mixing center, but 63.5 acres of farmland owned by the estate of Mary Rita Pike and farmed by Jack Trumbo remains caught in between the center and the road expansion.
The Pike family does not want to sell the land to the state for the court-established price of $1.088 million and has been in litigation since last fall fighting the state’s bid to enforce eminent domain.
Also questioning the plan is Martinrea Heavy Stamping, one of Shelby County’s largest employers, which could lose parking spaces as part of the state’s plan to dismantle the overpass and widen the road.
Despite those protests magistrates supported the plan by a vote of 6-1, with Mike Whitehouse of District 7, a Martinrea employee, voting against the measure because he said it would create access problems for Trumbo and for the Pikes.
The little guy caught in the middle of all this wrangling is Trumbo, who with his wife, Gwyn, since 2009 has leased 40 acres of the property to grow winter wheat, soybeans, corn and rye. The Trumbos suddenly have crops that their equipment may not be able to reach.
“We are looking for another spot that we can own, because we don’t like to be in this situation, but you do what you have to when you farm,” Gwyn Trumbo said.
Julia Pike of Edgewood, representing her family’s estate, attended Tuesday’s meeting to suggest that the road should not be closed until the legal process had been completed.
A recent ruling by Shelby County Circuit Judge Charles Hickman gave the state the right to buy the parcel at 1198 Joyes Station and set the price at $1.088 million under eminent domain. Pike’s attorney, Sam Carl, said his client does not dispute that process but that the client does have the right to reject the amount as set as fair market value by the master commissioner. The Pikes are fighting that ruling, although no litigation has been filed.
The property, which includes a dilapidated, 2-story farm house, 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 for the proposed Harley-Davidson plant.
Julia Pike told fiscal court she did not think the county should close the road while the Pikes still own the property and that magistrates should hold off until the litigation is concluded.
The Trumbos, who live on Buck Creek Road, had been accessing the property via Brunerstown Road, but Gwyn Trumbo said that closing the overpass means they will have to seek access through the Shelby County Industrial Park, just east of the parcel, and that brings in new concerns.
One is, she said, that property in the industrial park through which the equipment would have to travel is owned by Norfolk Southern and that railroad officials may not grant access. That’s not uncommon.
“Even if we can go through there, it’s very congested over there, and it’s dangerous for farm equipment,” she said. “If they close the road, we will have to try to do that.”
Trumbo said she knows the bridge must go, and she understands the necessity of that but that she regrets the hardship to her family, which also farms land in Spencer and Jefferson counties.
And then there’s the issue with Martinrea.
Transportation Cabinet Right of Way Supervisor Ron Geveden said at the meeting that he had spoken to Martinrea Plant Manager Shawn Adelsberger about the possibility of expanding the plant’s parking lot and, at the same time, gaining access to the Pikes’ property for construction purposes.
Adelsberger, who did not attend the meeting, said later Tuesday he hasn’t spoken to Transportation officials for a couple of months.
“We would need to know what is the right of way for the project and how far they would have to come into our parking lot, and we discussed an amendment to add additional spaces to make up for that, but I have not heard from them for two or three months,” he said.