Old issues arise for council
CLOVERDALE -- The Cloverdale Town Council once again was forced to address a story that has been going on for years.
For years, the town and Richard Branneman have battled over whom the land belongs to.
Currently, Branneman farms a large portion of the land at 10488 S. CR 675 East, but the town also has several wells that they currently use located on the same land. Branneman believes the land belongs to him while the town says otherwise.
"I think it's time to get it settled," Branneman said. "In my opinion I'm the owner of it."
With no clear record of who the land belongs to, the issue has become a game of who said what.
Branneman went on to explain that his father originally purchased the land in 1974 and he later bought the land off of his father. For the past 38 years he has also paid property taxes on the land, which leads him to believe he is the rightful owner.
This issue has been going on for several years, as nobody can find the deed to the land. However, clerk-treasurer Cheryl Galloway has finally got her hands on the original deed.
"The town has an original signed document," said town attorney Allan Yackey. "For reasons we can't determine it was never recorded."
The town originally bought the land in August 1974 and installed the wells shortly thereafter. For whatever reason, whoever was around at the time of this transaction never recorded the deed."
There is no indication that the property was ever transferred from the older Branneman to the town. However, the town has records saying it approved the payment for the land.
Branneman is now claiming that because the town is unable to produce the check used in the transaction, it must not have happened. However, banks only go back to the past seven years.
"The old farmer would have been knowledgeable enough to never deliver the deed if he never got his money," said Yackey. "His wife only passed away recently. If she had a complaint one would have thought she would have made that complaint a long time ago."
The fact it isn't recorded makes it look to Branneman that his deed owns the property. In previous meetings he originally asked for $20,000. Now he has increased his price.
Branneman came before the council Tuesday evening with a number in mind of $183,612.41 for the town to pay him for the land. This number included money for the land with interest, property taxes, water royalties and the cost for loss of crops.
"It's time this thing got resolved," said Council President Don Sublett.
The issue, which previously came up in 2000 and 2003, has taken the back burner for the past few years. However, this time around the council has decided to seek quiet title action.
"Quiet title action goes back to ancient English law," explained Yackey. "It becomes a situation where there's no question that things have been paid for and that the deed is in the hand of the rightful owner.'
This process will include a title agent handling the proceedings and will also record the new deed, to avoid a future mix-up like this one.
"The purchaser will get the original copy of the deed after it goes into permanent record with the government," Yackey said. "At this point in time we are looking to see if we could find the closing agent, if there was a company involved when this happened."
The town plans to proceed with taking quiet-title action as soon as possible.