Fordham v. Cleburne County Commission

In Fordham v. Cleburne County Commission, 580 So. 2d 567, 569 (Ala. 1991), the Court stated: "The proper procedures required to enforce 23-4-20 are found in 23-4-2." However, that statement, because it was not necessary to the holding in that case, is mere dicta. In Fordham, the landowners abutting Beaver Lane Road sought to vacate that road pursuant to 23-4-20. The landowners attended a meeting of the Cleburne County Commission and proposed that the road be closed. After an announcement of the proposed road closing had appeared in a local newspaper each week for three weeks, a requirement of 23-4-2, the Commission adopted a resolution calling for the road to be closed. The Commission later adopted another resolution evidencing its intent to vacate the road. However, this Court held that the Cleburne County Commission "did not meet the strict standards set out in 23-4-2 and 23-4-20" (580 So. 2d at 570) because it did not adopt a clear and unequivocal resolution closing Beaver Lane Road. While the Court in Fordham stated in dicta that a vacation pursuant to 23-4-20 must follow the procedure set out in 23-4-2, the Court also stated that "public streets, alleys, or highways can be closed and vacated by counties or municipalities in accordance with Ala. Code 1975, 23-4-1 through -6, or by 'abutting landowners' in accordance with 23-4-20." 580 So. 2d at 569. It is unclear whether the vacation sought in Fordham was initiated pursuant to 23-4-20 or 23-4-2 because, although the abutting landowners proposed the closing of the road to the county commission, the landowners did not join in a written instrument declaring the road to be vacated, as required by 23-4-20. However, it is clear that the road in Fordham was not properly vacated, because the abutting landowners did not follow the provisions of 23-4-20 and the commission did not follow the provisions of 23-4-2.