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Former county leader says Oak Hill roads public — Walker backs up claim of city’s ownership

A former county supervisor says he remembers voting to make the roads in Oak Hill public roads, and he’s written down his memory and signed it in support of the subdivision’s lawsuit against the City of Brookhaven.

The Daily Leader has obtained an affidavit dated May 26 and signed by former Lincoln County Supervisor Gary Walker saying the board of supervisors unanimously passed a resolution adding Oak Hill Drive and Cornerstone Lane to the county’s public road registry on Nov. 17, 2003, and the county performed routine maintenance on the roads afterward. Walker, who served as District 5 supervisor from 2000 to 2012, attests he assisted in some of the patching and repair projects to the roads, including a 2006 overlay done under the board’s direction.

“It’s a public road and it ought to be — that’s the way I feel about it,” Walker said. “We done some work on it, and I was always under the impression if the city annexed it, and it was a county road, it rolled over.”

The affidavit gives the Oak Hill Homeowners Association another piece of ammunition in its ongoing lawsuit against Brookhaven, which seeks to force the city to recognize the subdivision’s roads as public and begin maintaining them. Homeowners point to the 2003 county road registry as proof the roads were public at the time the city annexed the area, and also to records of a $27,000 paving project the city performed on Oak Hill Drive in 2011 that, even if not public at the time, could make the road public by prescription.

But the city maintains the streets were never properly dedicated prior to the annexation and should remain private property. The board of aldermen in 2012 laid out what it considered the proper steps to dedicate the roads after the previous city administration rejected an attempt by Oak Hill to deed its roads to the city.

The case between the HOA and the city is being heard in Walthall County by 4th Chancery District Judge Wayne Smith.

The two sides came to a temporary truce early last month after heavy rainfall eroded the subdivision lake’s spillway under Oak Hill drive, threatening to cut the road in half. After each side’s attorney exchanged carefully-worded letters, the city sent crews in for emergency maintenance only after securing the HOA’s permission to do the work.

In a letter back to the city, homeowners expressed thanks for what they considered temporary measures and expressed hope for a permanent solution.

Beck Warren, Oak Hill spokesperson and founding member, hopes Walker’s affidavit will help prove the HOA’s case.

“The roads within Oak Hill were considered public by the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors pre-annexation and they conducted ongoing upkeep and maintenance, which could only be done by them on public roads,” Warren said Friday in a statement. “After annexation, the City of Brookhaven continued the same routine upkeep and maintenance for over nine years, which again, can only be done on public roads.”

Walker isn’t the only county official who believes Oak Hill’s roads were public before the annexation.

“In fact, back in the day, we used to keep them patched,” said District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson. “Oak Hill Drive was a public road back then.”