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Residents, city working to resolve fence dispute
MSmiley
Resident Michael Smiley points toward where one of the new fences will be erected. - photo by Photo by Andrea Washington

FenceDebate

Controversy brewing over new fences

Hinesville city officials have balked on plans to allow a six-foot, barbed wire fence at the end of Bradwell Street Extension that would halt access to a popular path used by neighborhood residents.
“The folks who were going to put the fence up have decided to wait,” Councilman Steve Troha said. “I think there’s going to be more discussion, and there will be. (Bradwell Street) is a good neighborhood because these folks are all concerned, and I’m going to make sure that I’m mindful of the neighborhoods’ concerns.”
According to some Bradwell Street homeowners, the rumor of a fence being constructed at the end of the street had circulated around the neighborhood for a while, but the controversy kicked into high gear Wednesday when residents discovered a well-known landmark no longer in its spot.
“I had a neighbor up the street from me — she’s lived here 28 years and never had a problem — she went to go take a walk over to the school, came down by my house where the bridge is and realized the bridge was sitting on a lawn,” homeowner Kelly Gregg said. “She came over and knocked on my door and asked me if I had anything to do with it or if I knew about it, but I was shocked.”
The bridge has served as a means to cross the ditch at the end the street since the early 1990s. Many residents, especially children, use it as a walking and biking path to the campuses of Joseph Martin Elementary School or Snelson-Golden Middle School.
Resident Connie Klein, the first to notice the bridge had been removed, said a city public works employee informed her it was being torn down because of orders from Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards.

Attempts by the Courier to contact Edwards were unsuccessful.
Klein said she called Edwards’ office prior to the bridge being taken down, but his office “denied anything was taking place.”
“Then they tell me (Wednesday) morning citizens are paying for the fence to be erected on city property,” Klein said, pointing at the now defunct bridge. “This was all done underhand and under the table.”
Homeowner Michael Smiley, one of the residents fronting the money to have the barrier put in place, said nothing was done in private and believes the changing image of the neighborhood necessitates a fence.
“We’re having a problem with people who don’t live in this neighborhood cutting through our backyards, having lots thefts and break-ins and there’s trash being left on the street and we’re having to pick it up,” he said while standing where the new fence would stand. “And then there’s parents from other neighborhoods parking and dropping their kids off at the end of street and even some teachers parking their cars in people’s driveways.”
Smiley said he and other residents expressed their concerns to Troha, who agreed to take action.
But Klein and Gregg contend it was only a select group of residents who had any influence in the decision. They are against having a fence constructed and want the Hinesville City Council to hear their opinions.
“This would be a huge inconvenience for me especially with two children going to school,” Gregg said. “There should’ve  been some kind of meeting, vote or something.”
Councilmen Jack Shuman, Kenneth Shaw and Charles Frasier said they were unaware Troha and some Bradwell Street residents were working together to have the fence built.

Staff Writer John Deike contributed to this story.

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