City gives homeowners easement for fence

01/06/2014 1:50 PM

01/06/2014 1:51 PM

The City Council and park board last month made good on a pledge to help several homeowners who live south of the new Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park screen their shared pond from park patrons.

The council and board actions provided for an easement that would allow the eight property owners to build a fence on the north side of the pond, near where a bridge from the park will connect to the future 12-foot-wide concrete trail of the Walnut Creek Linear Park.

The residents, who live in the Estates of Creekwood, a gated community within the Arbors of Creekwood, are concerned that park visitors might confuse the pond with park amenities, creating a liability problem for the property owners.

“I think the homeowners had some legitimate concerns,” said Mayor David Cook, who along with Mayor Pro Tem Stephen Lindsey met with the homeowners in June. Cook said they “were able to come to a resolution.”

But it doesn’t appear the case is closed, according to Kelli Savering, a resident who has helped plan sessions with city officials.

“We’re not done yet,” she said last week, declining to outline other concerns. “We’re not done.”

Another resident whose property does not front on the pond, and who asked for anonymity, echoed Savering, saying there are “issues that have to be worked out.” But he also declined to elaborate.

Those comments were news to city officials, who said no other issues had been presented to them.

“I know nothing about that,” said Harold Bell, president of the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corporation. “Nothing was simple about this, but it was a solution to what their needs were and it satisfied the parks board in the city of Mansfield.”

The park, at 1650 Matlock Road, is set for a grand opening of its $3 million first phase Jan. 25

The park facilities board owns the Oliver Park property, which extends to within a few feet of the pond’s northern edge. That buffer isn’t wide enough for the required fence, which would have to be engineered to meet city drainage standards, said City Attorney Craig Magnuson. The easement would provide the needed extra width.

“It’s not about the city’s aesthetic requirements,” Magnuson said. “It has almost 100 percent to do with engineering requirements, because it’s in a floodway.”

The park board voted to give the easement, and the council ratified the action. The residents, whose properties front the southern edge of the pond, would pay the cost of designing and building the fence.

Shelly Lanners, director of community services, said the fence was the only issue brought up in meetings that she and other staff members have had with the residents going back to last spring, when the city broke ground on the park. She and other officials said they believe the city has done all it said it would.

“Here’s what I do know,” Lanners said. “We had an agreement for an easement that has been approved by both boards, that is ready for the homeowners to sign so it can be executed.”

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