As Corrected August 6, 2015.
Released for Publication June 15, 2015.
Appeal from Limestone Circuit Court. (CV-13-0058). Robert M. Baker, Trial Judge.
Sara Johnson Crossfield, Appellant, Pro se.
For Appellee: T. Mark Maclin of Wilmer & Lee, PA, Athens.
MOORE, Chief Justice. Stuart, Bolin, Parker, and Main, JJ., concur. Murdock, Shaw, Wise, and Bryan, JJ., dissent.
MOORE, Chief Justice.
Sara Johnson Crossfield appeals from a summary judgment entered by the Limestone Circuit Court in favor of the Limestone County Commission (" the Commission" ) in Crossfield's action to reverse the Commission's decision to vacate a portion of Dogwood Flats Road in Limestone County. We affirm.
I. Facts and Procedural History
In early 2013, the Commission proposed to vacate a portion of Dogwood Flats Road pursuant to § 23-4-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975 (which addresses vacating streets and highways). The relevant section of Dogwood Flats Road lies near Tanner and runs north and south for a distance of approximately 2,230 feet. In April 2013, the Commission advertised the proposed road vacation for four consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. The Commission notified
the abutting property owners of that portion of Dogwood Flats Road proposed to be vacated and scheduled a public hearing pursuant to § 23-4-2, Ala. Code 1975. Crossfield's property does not abut the portion of Dogwood Flats Road proposed to be vacated; it abuts Dogwood Flats Road approximately 400 feet north of the portion of the road that the Commission proposed to vacate.
On May 6, 2013, the Commission held a public hearing concerning the proposed road vacation. Crossfield attended the hearing and voiced her objections to the proposed road vacation pursuant to § 23-4-2(a) (" Any citizen alleging to be affected by the proposed vacation may submit a written objection to the governing body or may request an opportunity to be heard at the public hearing held as required herein." ).
After the hearing, the Commission adopted a resolution vacating the relevant portion of the road. The Commission found that the portion of the road sought to be vacated was no longer in use by the general public and that it was in the public interest to vacate that portion of Dogwood Flats Road. The Commission found that the vacation of the road would not deprive any owner of any right to convenient and reasonable means of ingress and egress.
On June 5, 2013, Crossfield filed an appeal of the Commission's vacation of the road in the Limestone Circuit Court (" the trial court" ) pursuant to § 23-4-5, Ala. Code 1975 (" Any party affected by the vacation of a street, alley, or highway pursuant to this chapter may appeal within 30 days of the decision of the governing body vacating the street to the circuit court of the county in which the lands are situated ...." ). Crossfield alleged that she was a " party affected by the vacation of a portion of Dogwood Flat[s] Road" and asked the trial court to set aside the vacation of the road. Crossfield alleged, among other things, that the Commission had obstructed her access to Piney Creek, which lies to the east and south of Crossfield's property.
On June 21, 2013, the Commission moved the trial court to dismiss Crossfield's appeal on the grounds that " Crossfield is not a person affected by the vacation and lacks standing to appeal the decision of the [Commission] to vacate the subject portion of Dogwood Flats Road." The Commission's motion to dismiss included copies of public records relevant to the vacation of the road and an affidavit from Richard Sanders, Limestone ...