NEW CUMBERLAND - A property dispute between the Hancock County Commission and attorney Lawrence Manypenny is set to go to trial on March 25.
Visiting Judge David W. Hummel Jr. of Marshall County Circuit Court set the trial date during a pre-trial conference on Monday. The bench trial will go forward unless the parties reach a negotiated settlement or Hummel grants the commissioners' motion for summary judgment, filed last week.
Commissioners took Manypenny and his wife, Constance, to court in February after the New Cumberland attorney, whose office sits next to Hancock County Magistrate Court, erected orange pylons, caution tape and "no trespassing" signs between the two buildings in an attempt to delineate his property.
Manypenny claims ownership of the land up to and including the Magistrate Court sidewalk and enclosed staircase, as well as a portion of the county parking lot immediately north of his office building.
In recent court filings, Manypenny said he is entitled to "just compensation" from the county under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Both parties have had the property surveyed in the past year, and Manypenny claims the surveys are consistent with his position.
Commissioners claim the Magistrate Court building sits on parcels acquired by the county in 1976 and 1982, and that they're entitled, under the legal doctrine of adverse possession, to use land that has been used by the general public for 30 years.
In an affidavit filed this week, Manypenny denied commissioners' contention that he has never maintained or improved the sidewalk.
In his response to commissioners' motion for summary judgment, Manypenny said he and his wife have "maintained the disputed area, paid taxes on the property (and) used the property on a daily basis. ..."
Potential witnesses in the trial include County Commissioners Dan Greathouse, Jeff Davis and Mike Swartzmiller, Magistrates Scott Hicks, Michael Powell and Mike White, former County Administrator Gus "Chuck" Svokas, former Administrative Assistant Cindy Jones, County Assessor Joseph Alongi and County Clerk George Foley.
(Huba can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)