Farmer ordered off land in Scott County, Kentucky 


CENTRAL KENTUCKY BUREAU
Herald Leader

2/19/02 - A 71-year-old Scott County cattle farmer who has waged an unyielding land dispute with the county's fiscal court has been ordered to leave his property within one month.

The agreed order, signed by Scott Circuit Judge Robert Overstreet and sent to the farmer on Friday, also prohibits Troy Russell from coming within 1 mile of his 242-acre farm in northern Scott County after March 15. Nor can Russell "harass or engage in any conversations" about the property with the engineers, county employees or anyone else working to develop the land into a public recreational lake and water supply.

Asked whether the order seemed unnecessarily harsh, Scott County Judge-Executive George Lusby said, "There are reasons for that type of language to be there." He declined to elaborate, but added that the 1-mile restraining order would follow common sense; Russell would not be charged, for example, if he were driving on the road or visiting neighbors near the land.

But Russell, who does not live on the farm, said he couldn't understand why the county would imply he'd annoy county workers regarding the land. "What would make them say I would do anything about this?" said Russell, who has traversed the farm for 28 years. "This case is done."

Lee Van Horn, Russell's attorney who agreed to the order, said an immediate restraining order could have been sought against the farmer. Van Horn said of his client: "He's not happy, but it was better than the alternative."

Russell is still seeking a fair replacement value for his land, which was appraised at $283,000, or $1,169 an acre. Negotiating the price is the task left to Lee Van Horn, the son of Russell's best friend, David Van Horn. Until his death on Dec. 31, David Van Horn had represented the farmer.

"I'm trying to get him every single penny that's his," Lee Van Horn said. "This is his retirement fund."

Russell was the last holdout in a series of land acquisitions by the county since 1989. The reservoir is expected to be completed within 212 years.

Russell, who has not found another farm, said 30 days is not enough time to move his livestock.

"Well, he's had several years," Lusby said. "How much time is enough time? We are not trying to be mean to Mr. Russell. We've tried and tried and tried to work this out."

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