Bunker Road quarrel heading to mediation

Feb 28, 2012 By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

Lawyers representing landowners affected by the Fremont County Commission's effort to renew Bunker Road in Lander for public use will attempt mediation in the case.

As a result, a public hearing for commissioners to decide whether to pursue the proposed road alteration and determine specific damages to award to landowners has been postponed.

Instead, some commissioners, along with their lawyers, convene with affected landowners and their attorneys for mediation starting Tuesday at the Fremont County Courthouse in Lander.

"The message we want the public to know is we're going to make a good-faith effort to mediate the issue and see if we can come to a solution," said commission chairman Doug Thompson.

Attorneys involved in the ongoing dispute between the commission and affected landowners residing on King Drive along the proposed route for Bunker Road agreed to the mediation, he said.

"It was an agreed upon strategy by all parties to see if there was a way of mediating the issue," Thompson said. "Hopefully that will be a successful process."

The mediation could help resolve the controversy over the obscured path off Baldwin Creek Road where landowners have questioned the route's legal existence because it was not identified in title searches or a subdivision approval.

After years of litigation, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in November 2010 that Bunker Road is a legal public route that has never been vacated or abandoned by county government.

The mediation arrives as the three appraisers appointed by the commission to provide a recommendation of damages in the case returned their report dated Feb. 10.

The report prepared by land surveyor Dick Inberg, engineer Jerry Crews and real estate agent Ivan Judd, all residents in the Riverton area, recommended no damage award for specific homeowners along the route.

"In general all of the team members had empathy with the landowners, who ... expressed their concerns of altering Bunker Road to overlay King Drive," according to the report.

"However, we found no tangible damages ... that would be a direct result of the Alteration of Bunker Road to overlay the alignment of the existing King Drive," the report states.

Specifically, the appraisers considered the landowners on the proposed alteration route that uses King Drive from its intersection with Baldwin Creek Road to the intersection with Bunker Road's right of way.

The appraisers also held a meeting Jan. 24 at the courthouse to hear testimony from affected parties, which included King's attorney Rick Sollars, as well as Todd Seely and Corey Seely with their spouses.

Sollars said the appraisers need to consider how the road will change the area including the type of community and property values, according to minutes taken during the 20-minute hearing.

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