A Tamina resident continues to fight for land he claims to own, despite losing the most recent court battle.

Ivy Bell believes he owns a 1.078-acre tract next to his home and property. The city of Shenandoah used condemnation proceedings to take ownership of the land in March 2006. Then, the Shenandoah Industrial Development Corporation sold it for commercial use. A lawsuit was filed to remove Bell from the property, but a temporary injunction to keep developers from entering the property until the issue is resolved was granted to Bell earlier this year. Last month, however, County Court-at-Law 2 Judge Jerry Winfree denied Bell's motion for a new trial in an attempt to reverse the condemnation. Bell's attorney, Harold Denton, filed an appeal Sept. 18 in the 9th District Court of Appeals in Beaumont after Winfree's ruling.

Denton claims Shenandoah did not notify Bell of the eminent domain proceedings in 2006. "They slipped it under the rug,"" Denton said. Peterson Commercial LLC, a Houston-based development company, purchased the land for about $11,000 from the SIDC earlier this year.

Bell said he realized the property had been sold when construction vehicles rolled onto the property to begin clearing it for development late last spring. Bell's home is on one acre adjacent to the property in question. His wife also operates a business on the land.Denton says Bell owned the land through a little-known provision in the law called adverse possession, which allows a person who has ""notoriously"" lived on and improved an unclaimed piece of property for at least 10 years to take ownership of it.

Bell said he has obviously lived on and improved the property since he moved to Tamina in the late 1980s. According to Denton's third amended motion for a new trial filed Sept. 18, developers want to use the land as a detention pond for private businesses. R.A. ""Mickey"" Deison, attorney for the city of Shenandoah and SIDC, contends Bell never openly claimed the property, never went through the proper proceedings to become the owner and never contested the eminent domain.

Deison said Bell's appeal is ""wholly without merit"" and predicted it would be rejected.
He said he is equally pleased the court set a $360,000 bond that Bell will have to pay to keep construction from beginning on the property. ""That is a very expensive piece of property,"" Deison said. ""It is holding up some development ... that is expensive for clients (to delay). The court has set a bond in recognition of the value of that.""

While the SIDC sold the property for $11,000, Bell would receive only about $2,000 from the SIDC for the acre. Bell's home sits on another acre, which is valued at $116,000, according to the Montgomery County Appraisal District.

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