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Neighborhood tiff ends up in court where Wright says trees must be cut

A neighborhood squabble has resulted in a Letcher County physician being court-ordered to cut trees and remove flowerbeds that have caused the narrowing of a street in the Parkway Estates subdivision at Little Dry Fork near Whitesburg.

A temporary injunction handed down by Letcher Circuit Court Judge Sam Wright orders Dr. Mediatrix Chimoi Mbamalu to “immediately remove” all “trees, flower gardens, decorative stones, decorative timbers or any other object[s]” that have caused Parkway Drive and Elizabeth Avenue to be less than 20 feet in width.

Wright’s ruling granting the injunction was entered July 25, one day after a hearing in which Wright heard claims against Dr. Mbamalu, a pediatrician, by husband and-wife plaintiffs Howard Cornett and Jackie Cornett.

In a lawsuit filed earlier in July, the Cornetts, owners of radio station WDXC-FM in Pound, Va., claim that Dr. Mbamalu’s refusal to cut pine and cedar trees planted by a previous homeowner and her installation of decorative stone and timbers and the enlargement of already-existing flower gardens have narrowed the streets around her property to the point they have “become impassable by vehicles larger than a pickup truck.”

The Cornetts “have owned motor homes for over 18 years and have always used Parkway Drive and Elizabeth Avenue to exit” Parkway Estates, says the lawsuit, but “can no longer remove their motor home [or] their pontoon boat” from the subdivision “or accept deliveries from trucks larger than a pickup truck.”

The Cornetts own five lots in the subdivision and have lived there a number of years. Dr. Mbamalu owns two lots, which she purchased in November 2012. In a motion seeking the temporary injunction, Whitesburg attorney James Hubbard argues on behalf of the Cornetts that Dr. Mbamalu was told before she purchased her home that the pine and cedar trees would have to be removed to keep in compliance with restrictive covenants that prevent subdivision residents from blocking the streets or reducing their width from 20 feet.

“A temporary injunction should be issued in this matter because it is obvious that (the Cornetts) have the right to access their property as the developers intended, as the deeds require, and as the plat is drawn,” Wright’s ruling says. “… The Court finds that (the Cornetts) will suffer serious and irreparable damage if (Dr. Mbamalu) is not directed to remove all obstructions that restrict travel on Parkway Drive and Elizabeth Avenue to less than 20 feet.”

Wright said the injunction ordering Dr. Mbamalu to “remove all obstructions that restrict travel” was necessary because the Cornetts were unable to use their motor home for a planned trip on July 30 and because the couple were unable to complete a sell of the pontoon boat because a potential buyer could not get the boat out of the subdivision and onto KY Highway 3401.

Wright’s ruling notes that Dr. Mbamalu “admitted that she was advised by the seller of her property that she must remove these trees.” Wright also ruled that Dr. Mbamalu “ further obstructed Parkway Drive and Elizabeth Avenue by enlarging flower beds [and] installing decorative stone and decorative timbers along the side of both streets. Defendant is also allowing two ornamental cherry trees to grow over onto the streets.”

In their motion seeking the injunction, the Cornetts said that Dr. Mbamalu “continued to have this work completed even after (they) notified (her) that this lawsuit would be filed if she refused to stop the obstruction of the road.”

Howard Cornett is a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

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