The city of Portsmouth finds itself in a relatively unusual position. They have to take possession of a piece of property so they can turn around and vacate it. The area in question is known as the Stark Addition. The full name is the J.F. Stark Addition and is an alley off Kendall Avenue in Portsmouth, directly behind the Speedway Convenience Store on Gallia Street.
“The Speedway up on Gallia and Kendall is looking to expand,” City Solicitor John Haas said. “They want to build a new building there and clean up the lot. They need to expand. They own the property on the other side of the alley.”
Haas said the alley has never formally been taken possession of by the city.
“The title company that did the title work for them (Speedway) indicated that they cannot see where the city of Portsmouth ever accepted the alley even though we’ve been maintaining it and have used this alley for years,” Haas said.
Haas said there are steps that have to carefully be taken before the process can come to fruition.
“In order to proceed toward vacating the alley so that Speedway can expand, first they want us to go ahead and accept that,” Haas said. “It’s just accepting something that we thought we had from 1908 to 1915.”
“Accept it and not vacate it?” Portsmouth Mayor Jim Kalb asked.
“”We have to accept it before we vacate it,” Haas responded. “The plan would be to accept it, then go to the Planning Commission to discuss it. The Planning Commission would recommend vacating it, and when it did, it would come to Council for formal action on the vacation of that alley-way.”
Haas said Speedway will proceed with surveying and would bring back the surveys the city needs for vacation.
Monday night Portsmouth City Council will consider an ordinance affirming and accepting dedication of Stark Addition.The ordinance reads, in part, “Whereas, the plat of the Stark Addition was created on or before September 30, 1908. From a period of time beginning on September 30, 1908, until February 13, 1915, the various lots of the Stark Addition were conveyed by deeds from John F. Stark and Minnie M. Stark, his wife, to various owners. The various deeds granted the owners of the parcels of said real estate the right to use the easements in common with all other property owners as reflected on the plat.”
The ordinance goes on to say – “Whereas, due to the proposed redevelopment and expansion of a local business which is located adjacent to the Stark Addition, it is necessary to formally accept dedication of the alleys. Due to the time constraints and business exigencies of the financing and construction of the project, that this legislation be considered an emergency.”
Stephanie Griffith of Marathon Petroleum Company, said it is too early to give out information on the planned expansion of the Speedway Store.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.