Property owner denied order against subdivision

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By LARRY TUCKER

editor@woodcountymonitor.com

A Mineola property owner was denied a restraining order and temporary injunction by Judge Jeff Fletcher in 402nd District Court Aug. 29 to stop plans to begin work on the Rose Hill Springs Subdivision.

Brian Smale of Mineola was seeking drainage plan information for the proposed Rose Hill Springs Subdivision north of Mineola on CR 2460. 

After being denied, Smale filed a motion for the recusal of Fletcher from the case the next day, Aug. 30.

In his motion, Smale claimed the judge denied him the opportunity to question Wood County’s “alleged” attorney Robert Davis. 

Smale called himself as his first witness. He claims during the administering of the oath, he (Smale) raised his hand and Fletcher went into a tirade berating him. What Fletcher did tell him was, “You will not disrespect this courtroom,” prior to administering the oath and after Smale had rolled his eyes at the judge while raising his hand.

In the motion to recuse the judge, it claims Fletcher’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

County commissioners voted unanimously June 28 to approve the subdivision on a motion by Precinct 2 Commissioner Jerry Gaskill seconded by Precinct 1 Commissioner Virgil Holland, Jr.

Smale contended there was no drainage plan on the Rose Hill Springs plat. Smale, a certified mediator, represented himself at the hearing.

“All I want to know is what the drainage calculation plans are,” Smale said. “They are going to build 61 houses from 1,300 to 1,800 square feet that butts up to our property.”

Gaskill said things were done exactly how they are always done by commissioners since he has been with the county.

Gaskill has been an employee with Wood County for almost 30 years including 10 years as a foreman prior to being elected commissioner in 2003.

“Used to be we didn’t even run plats through commissioner’s court. The only thing the state requires is you file a plat and that is through the county clerk’s office. We started running them through commissioner’s court. Anything that’s in there that has to do with drainage is because of the size of culverts. On private subdivisions, we have never told them what size culverts. It has to do if you plan on the county taking that road over in two years,” Gaskill explained. “Now if you come in there and say we are going to build roads up to county specs and I want the county to take it over in two years, then that’s when I go out there and I’m looking at the drainage just like the commissioner before me and the one before him. I have to make sure you put in the right size culverts because if you don’t we don’t have to set that road in two years. It doesn’t have anything to do with anything outside that plat that was approved.

“What we are talking about was really put in there for roads, not drainage for other properties or anything else. Whatever we approved on that plat is just for that. On private roads we don’t even go out because it has nothing to do with us. If we are not going to take over the road, we don’t have any responsibility. That’s the way it’s always been.” 

In the original petition, Smale states he learned of the plat approval by the commissioners by reading the front page of the Wood County Monitor. Named as defendants in the petition were Glen Thurman, also known as Glen Thurman Builder, Inc.; Rose Hill Springs Development, LLC; and Wood County Commissioner’s Court. Efforts by the Wood County Monitor to reach Thurman for a comment have been unsuccessful.

The petition claims on or about Aug. 16 digging for water supply pipes at the utility easements of the Rose Hill Springs subdivision began. Rust colored sediment began appearing in Smale’s fish stocked pond Aug. 19. According to Smale, at the directive of Thurman, Ramey Water Supply Company, or its subcontractor, is installing water supply pipes to the subdivision.

The petition states Smale was apprised by District Attorney Angela Albers, the drainage calculation record was not on file with Wood County. The petition by Smale states this means Wood County commissioners approved, without notice of hearing to the adjoining property owners, the possible impact of neighboring property owner’s homesteads.

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