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THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2007
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Trinity examining legality of subdividing property

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

TRINITY — A Trinity man who wanted to subdivide property on Old Alabama 24 to share with his children may have violated Planning Commission rules.

Then again, he may not have, said Town Attorney Larry Madison, who says that's the reason for an investigation.

Charles W. Murphy, 74, said Tuesday that he bought two tracts totaling 19 acres from the estate of James K. McBride. The property is next to Heritage Estates mobile home park, across the road from West Morgan Elementary School.

Murphy said he first bought 15 acres and several months later bought the other four acres. He said he sold a house and 2.8 acres off the smaller tract to Jim Brinkley. He plans to keep the remaining 1.2 acres, which has a barn.

He said that off the larger tract he sold one acre and a house at the back corner near Heritage Estates, to Tracy Sparks.

"I'm going to get the rest subdivided and give the land down there to my kids," he said. "My oldest son, Tony Murphy, has just built a house and moved in. My youngest daughter, Jennifer McAbee, also has a house on the property."

Charles Murphy said he plans to divide the remainder of the property between his other two children, Debbie Turner and Greg Murphy, and "keep some on the front for building my own house."

Madison said it is his understanding that Murphy may have divided some of the property without seeking the proper authorization from the Planning Commission "and he may have done so since he was advised to do that."

Madison said that just as it is illegal to subdivide property in the county without approval of the Morgan County Commission, it is likewise illegal to subdivide property in Trinity's municipal jurisdiction without approval of the Trinity Planning Commission.

"The obvious purpose is to make sure that subdivision standards are met so we don't have, for example, landlocked property that doesn't have adequate access or doesn't meet minimum lot sizes for buildings," he said. "The law applies equally across the board to everyone, and we intend to enforce it equally."

Murphy was on the Town Council agenda to discuss the property Monday. He said illness kept him away. The council tabled action.

"They gave me different stories," he said. "I applied to be annexed. They gave me something to fill out, and I carried it back the other day."

He added, "I thought if you are giving property to your kids that you didn't have to go through the Planning Commission."

Madison said there might be exceptions in an inheritance situation. "We have to check into to see what the facts are," he said. "That's why we don't take any further action and give him an opportunity to address this."

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