Chancellor rules for defendant in septic system case

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Marshall County's chancellor last week deflated a Petersburg woman's complaint against a man who lives next to her property facing the Fayetteville Highway.

Donna Salyers of Buchanan Street sued John Hill of Morgan Avenue in late March, complaining that Hill's septic tank is on her property and it's hindering her ability to sell the real estate, according to Hill's lawyer, Jason Reeves of Shelbyville.

Lewisburg-based attorney Lee Bussart Bowles represents Salyers. Attempts to reach Bowles were unsuccessful.

Hill has owned the property where he lives since Aug. 10, 2005, and Salyers' ownership of adjoining property dates to July 27, 1999, according to court records filed by Bowles, who also wrote Hill's deed contains an easement for the right to use the septic tank and field lines.

"An implied easement exists which allows Mr. Hill to leave his septic tank where it is and to operate and control the tank," Reeves said on Lewisburg's public square after Chancellor J.B. Cox ruled Oct. 28.

"When Ms. Salyers bought the property," Reeves said, "she knew about the septic tank.

"Now that it's affecting her right to sell," he said, "she wants the septic tank removed."

Hill resisted, and Cox ruled in his favor on that issue, Reeves said.

"The only question that remains is the actual location of the tank and the field lines," Reeves said as he explained the partial summary judgment pronounced by the chancellor from the bench.

Use and maintenance of the tank and field lines may continue, according to Reeves' explanation of Cox's ruling.

Salyers' complaint, presented by Bowles, says Hill isn't entitled to adverse possession, acquesition of the land including tank and lines without payment.

In a hand-written response on three-ring notebook paper filed April 30, Hill claimed the utility easement is legal and he asked the court to recognize his easement rights.

Five days later, Reeves notified the court that he represents Hill and 10 days after that, Reeves advised the court that the field lines start on Salyers' property and extend to property owned by the Petersburg Lions Club.

The septic lines have been there 20, maybe 70, years and were used by the Morgan School and possibly Petersburg High School, Reeves said. The lines were on the original tract of 10.38 acres, dating back to 1919.