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Swain Creek neighbors shocked by road fence

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SUPPLY—Driving her father to a doctor’s appointment Monday afternoon, Nancy Nixon was surprised when she saw someone putting a chain across the dirt road she lives on, preventing her from driving onto U.S. 17.

Immediately, she got out and asked the man who he was and what he was doing. He said told her he was working for the owner of the property, Estelle Varnam.

Nixon said her family had already called the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office when they saw posts had been erected on each side of the dirt path. They called again Monday.

Deputies told the family members they could cut it down, and they did, Nixon said, adding her father made it to his appointment in Wilmington on time.

The posts are still there, and “nobody’s messed with them or touched them since,” Nixon said. “We haven’t heard anything.”

According to Nixon and her brother-in-law, Lee Pittman, who also lives on Swain Creek, the road has been in place since the 1800s when it was established as a mail route.

“This is the only way we get in and out,” Nixon said. “Last year, when the rain was so bad, we couldn’t drive it. We had to park and walk for a week or two.”

The property surrounding the road has become a bone of contention for the Swain Creek residents.

Recently, members of the Varnam family had the land surveyed and told the residents the road was on the Varnams’ property and there was no easement to their property.

When the residents found out, Nixon said she sent Estelle Varnam a certified letter asking to meet with her, but she never received a response.

Contacted at her home this week, Varnam said she wanted to wait a month before responding to the allegations.

To deal with the issue, Nixon, Pittman and their extended family have hired a lawyer to research the deeds for the property to properly define who owns what.

“I hope the outcome will be that they can’t block our road, and we’ll get everything straightened out,” Nixon said.

“There’s a lot of elderly people here, and if somebody needs a rescue squad or an ambulance what would happen?”

Pittman said he’s going to adamantly defend his rights and those of his neighbors.

“When there’s a road there, you can’t block it,” he said.

sarah shew wilson is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or swilson@brunswickbeacon.com.