Cullman County Seeks to Regain Right of Way at Ryan Creek Marina


BREMEN – Local residents of Cullman County recently met at the Brushy Pond Community Center to discuss an ongoing legal battle that is affecting many in the area. Cullman County Associate Commissioner Stanley Yarbrough met with local concerned citizens along with Cullman County attorney Heath Meherg to discuss where the case was heading.


The dispute has been developing over a long period of time between the owner of Ryan Creek Marina and the Cullman County Commission after the public access point was gated and subsequently closed to the public.


“The issue comes in where they [Ryan Creek] think that boat ramp belongs to them,” Meherg said. “And we think that boat ramp, or at least a portion of it, is on the County’s right of way.”


A deed from 1960 has also come into play, according to Meherg, which shows that the boat ramp is in fact on the County’s property.


“Now they are saying that the deed from 1960 is invalid,” Meherg stated. “Because according to them, the individual that conveyed that to the state of Alabama was from an estate, and they are saying that there was never an estate opened. This issue should have been raised 54 years ago, because the deed was recorded, and everyone had notice that the deed was recorded and on file.”


This issue now comes down to a ruling on who has the right of way and to finally lay the issue to rest. Tensions were high for some local residents who are outraged that the access to the lake has been restricted, and some say that for many, the issue poses much bigger problems. Eddie Hand, owner and publisher of Smith Lake Living Magazine, says that there are economic and safety concerns for this area as well.


“It decreases the economic value for the entire community,” Hand said. “Because there aren’t any boat ramps in this area, and the other issue is one of safety. If there is an accident on the lake within this 20-mile stretch, there is no place to go to retrieve or investigate an accident.”


While the issues for the community are great, Meherg said that his focus has to remain on the issue of right of way.


“From my perspective I have to focus on one thing and that is restoring the right of way back to the County,” said Meherg. “From the citizen’s perspective it is absolutely an economic booster for the area.”


While tensions are high, Commissioner Yarbrough made it very clear that the County and citizens want to support the local marina as a business while maintaining their right to use the County’s property. The main goal for the County and Meherg is to put this issue to rest, and let the courts decide.


“This needs to be resolved by the courts,” said Meherg. “You know, I do not want anyone to act outside of the courts and to do something. I want this resolved legally, and for this to be resolved forever.”


A court date had not yet been set at the time of this article’s release, but a date will should be set within the next few months.


This story was originally published in the September 8 issue of CullmanSense print edition