Lawsuit against Treetop Adventures set for trial
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
COLUMBIANA – A lawsuit brought by Shelby County against a Chelsea amusement park claiming the park improperly connected a driveway to Dunnavant Valley Road is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 2, according to court documents.
Shelby County filed the lawsuit in October 2013 against Tree Top Family Adventure LLC and Jones Commercial Properties LLC seeking to block access to a driveway leading from Dunnavant Valley Road “without (first) obtaining a permit” for the road from the Shelby County Commission.
Tree Top Family Adventure is an amusement and entertainment venue off Dunnavant Valley Road featuring go-karts, arcade games, miniature golf and more.
According to the complaint filed by the county in 2013, the County Commission passed a resolution in 2004 requiring entities to obtain a permit from the commission before constructing an access driveway connecting to a county road.
Tree Top owners submitted a plan to the commission in November 2009 seeking the driveway permit. The commission responded, requesting a center left turn lane be added to Dunnavant Valley Road at the developer’s cost.
After the county and the developer attempted to reach a “mutually satisfactory solution,” the developers “proceeded to construct the access driveway without completing the permit application process,” and opened Tree Top in June 2010, according to the county’s complaint.
“They have continued to the present day to operate their business on the property using the unpermitted access driveway as the sole access to the property for their customers,” read the county’s complaint, noting the driveway “constitutes a hazard to the safety and welfare of the traveling public” on Dunnavant Valley Road.
In 2013, the county installed traffic bollards preventing left turns and U-turns from Dunnavant Valley Road onto the Tree Top parking lot.
In an answer to the complaint filed by Tree Top’s attorneys in February, the developers said they opened the business without obtaining a permit for the driveway because “any further attempts at obtaining the approval requested by the defendants became futile and, out of business necessity, defendants proceeded.”
Tree Top also claimed it is the county’s responsibility to maintain and improve its public roadways, and claimed the commission’s failure to grant Tree Top a driveway permit were “arbitrary, capricious and bear no relationship to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and inhabitants of Shelby County.”
“Plaintiff’s attempts to deprive defendants of access to a public road are unlawful and unconstitutional and constitute a taking or deprivation of access to the public road to which defendants have a legal right without due process of law,” read Tree Top’s answer.