BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – As a result of the 2017-18 duck blind controversy, the Lee County Conservation Board has deeded over property that was in question as a result of Ameren Corp’s recent divesting of property along the river.
For the past several years Ameren has been dumping it’s property along the river by deeding it over to private and public entities such as the Lee County Conservation District and Green Bay Levy districts.
However, it appears there was some haste in the process and some errors were made on Ameren’s part that left several groups with deeds to the same property.
When the LCCB went to battle with area duck hunters last year into this year, over permanent duck blinds, area hunters took to the offensive. In addition to dogging the board at many meetings during the deadlock over blind rights, hunters also went to the Lee County Auditor’s office to find out just how much land the district owned.
According to Shirley Hoenig, a member of the duck blind committee, the conservation district was saying they had close to 1800 acres, although the district said they purchased close to 700 acres a year and half ago.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Conservation Board, the board passed a resolution prepared by Lee County Attorney Ross Braden that executed some quit claims on property that Ameren had apparently deeded to separate entities.
Nathan Unsworth, LCCD director said the resolution finally cleans up the deeds from Ameren property.
“This is final clarification. Basically when Ameren was getting rid of different properties here, we purchased some and other entities purchased some. Well they had switched up some property and they sold to others,” he said.
“Some of this area is expanded up north of what we originally thought. We had stuff all the way up by Green Bay Levy District that we weren’t supposed to have. (Ameren) had it going to us and they turned around and sold it to other people. So we just quit claimed it back to them. One was a private entity and the other was the Green Bay Levy District.”
Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said county staffers Michelle Dodson and Marcus Martin poured through documents for about a week and finally got the issues cleared up.
“Michelle Dodson found all this when the duck hunters were in asking what property the conservation district owned,” Fraise said. “She’s been working hard getting that mapped out. The conservation had a survey done and that’s where the issues started. Michelle and Marcus found that Ameren had deeded property previously and then again to the Conservation district.”
Unsworth said the resolution just gives the property back to those it was originally intended for.
Braden said the issues were strictly errors in deeds on Ameren’s part, but the issues were minor and have now been settled and there was no monetary gain or loss in the claims.
“Ameren, when they unloaded their river property, it seems to be that they didn’t know what they owned and what they didn’t,” Braden said. “They wanted to divest themselves so they deeded property to the LCCD, when the district purchased some of the other land. Unknowingly, the district acquired a few other parcels in the deed, that Ameren had also deeded to Green Bay Levy District #2 and other private groups.”
Braden said there was also an island that Ameren owned that was deeded to the the district, but also to another group.
The board on Tuesday issued a resolution that buttoned up the issue by quit claiming those properties back to the entities that they were originally intended to go to.
“This was clearly by virtue of a mistake and there’s no value lost or gained because no one really knew the deeds overlapped,” Braden said.