District Judge Hon. Van Hampton granted Mullinville city officials a restraining order against local artist M.T. Liggett last Wednesday in Ford County District Court. City officials asked the judge to approve the temporary restraining order while it pursues legal action to clarify ownership of a disputed stretch of Elm Street in Mullinville.
City Attorney Janice Jorns represented Mayor Andy Kimble. Jae Lee of Campbell Law Firm in Cimarron represented Liggett.
Kimble explained the city’s position while taking the witness stand.
The city argued that the disputed stretch of Elm Street between U.S. 54 and the Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way had been maintained at the city’s expense, was a main throughway and that the large trailers, which Liggett had placed along the west side of the street had created a traffic hazard.
Kimble said that to his knowledge the city had maintained Elm Street for the entirety of his residence there, more than 20 years.
Jorns also presented city ordinance #119, which was passed in 1949. The ordinance reopened the disputed stretch of Elm Street, but may have not been filed with the county Register of Deeds office as required by law.
She also mentioned Ordinance #190, passed in 1969, which designates Elm Street as a main trafficway.
Kimble said that Liggett’s trailers, which obstruct half of the road, were preventing city crews from maintaining the road and that the holes Liggett had dug in the road were causing damage to the road base.
“The barricade has deterred us from maintaining Elm Street and deterioration has begun” said Kimble “We are unable to get the necessary equipment in to maintain the road.”
Lee briefly cross-examined Kimble, asking how much the city had spent on maintaining the roads, which Kimble was unable to answer. She also asked about much would be owed on the land, had it been taxed.
The section of road has not been taxed as private property.
Lee also asked about maintenance of the street over the past year, citing moisture build-up on the road dirt.
“The only reason we did not fix the moisture in the road was because of the barricade,” answered Kimble. “The road was otherwise maintained properly until the barricade was constructed.”
Lee filed a number of motions as well. She asked that the judge survey the land, make an inspection of the land and also filed a motion for dismissal.
Judge Hampton denied the request for inspection but reserved judgment on a survey of the land. He didn’t take into consideration the motion to dismiss the case.
Page 2 of 2 - A number of county and city officials attended the hearing, which lasted more than an hour on the third floor of the Ford County Courthouse.
Mullinville City Council members Dee McDonald and Jary Boehme as well as Kiowa County Third District Commissioner Ron Freeman were present. Presumptive Kiowa County Attorney J. Scott James attended the hearing as well as presumptive Ford County Attorney Natalie Randall.
Liggett was ordered to remove the trailers within 30 days and to not do any more modifications to the street while the trial is pending.
A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 with a trial scheduled for Dec. 3.
Reached for comment neither Liggett nor Kimble chose to comment citing the ongoing litigation.
Liggett and city officials have been in disagreement over the stretch of Elm Street since early 2012. Liggett argues that one half of the street is his property and city officials disagree. The city provided quick claim deeds to all property owners along Elm Street, with only Liggett and another owner declining to sign. The second property owner has since sold the land to Kiowa County Deputy Sheriff Zane Huffman.