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County: The fence must be removed

Members of the Hamilton family have said they put up several miles of barbed wire fence in Citronelle to mark off their property.

But according to the county, some of that fencing is on county-owned land, and it violates county code.

In a letter to John Hamilton last week, director of public safety Charles Poliseno said the fencing must be removed by Sunday. If not, he wrote, the county will tear it down.

John Hamilton could not be reached for comment, and Poliseno said he had not received a reply to his letter.

In interviews with the Times last year, members of the Hamilton family said they were protecting land that was rightfully theirs.

Donald Ray Hamilton said that when people tell him they have a deed, he replies, "Well, I got a fence."

Hamilton family members said more than 400 acres of property was claimed before 1910 by Willie D. Hamilton, who rode into Citronelle on a donkey. The turpentine-stilling boom town was going bust, and people left him their property for pennies or less.

The fencing is located in Citronelle in the area of Dunklin Street and County Road 495, Poliseno said.

Poliseno said Monday that some of the fencing is located in a county right of way and that some of it crosses other people's property.

And the county's land development code prohibits barbed wire fence from residential areas, he said.

Livestock grazing on the property must also be removed and placed on property that belongs to the Hamiltons, Poliseno said, or the county will remove the animals as well.

"We want him to remove that fence and we want him to make sure that he moves his cattle onto his own property so that they don't become free wandering cattle," Poliseno said.

If the fencing and livestock are not removed by Sunday, county crews will start removing them around March 1, he said.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 860-7309.

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