Public versus private road issue addressed by commission

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2005

LINDEN-A topic that often causes confusion came before the Marengo County Commission once again this week. The issue of public versus private roads often causes confusion and frustration when maintenance on the road is necessary.

In recent years the commission has ceased work on private roads and many residents wonder why their roads have been left to deteriorate.

Emanuel Gary of180 Falcon Lane was the latest to question why his road was no longer on the agenda. Gary said the unusually wet weather in recent months has left his road in a poor state.

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“The road leading into that area washes continuously,” Gary said. “In the past over the years the county has come up and serviced that road, but lately that road hasn’t been serviced. Right now it is very dangerous for the trash truck to come in or for the mail carrier to come in.”

Gary said the weekend rains have left residents almost incapable of maneuvering through. He said the conditions have also created a dangerous situation.

“When the water gets like it was over the weekend it is almost impossible to come and go from the house,” Gary said. “It is dangerous and if there is a fire or something like that it could be very difficult for fire trucks or emergency vehicles to get down there. The bottom line is we need the road so we can come and go to our property.”

Overall there are five houses, soon to be six, on a half a mile road. Unfortunately, for those residents the road has never been deeded to the county giving them no obligation for repairs.

Commission Chairman Freddie Armstead said the residents of the road must follow the proper avenues before the county can legally repair the road.

“In order to give it to the county there are regulations we need to go by,” Armstead said. “What you are doing is subdividing because you are building and adding houses. There are houses added on so it is not a public road and you have not given deeds to the county. If it is not given to the county it is not a public road.”

Repairs to public roads have been restricted since a lawsuit was filed on the subject. Armstead said problems arose when private roads and drives were being serviced which prompted him to personally take action.

“Sometime ago we were doing public roads and we were doing everbody’s driveways and I am the bad guy,” Armstead said. “I filed a lawsuit to stop it because we were not able to give the public roads the time they needed.”

Commissioner John Crawford explained that through the lawsuit the county could no longer service a road that did not belong to them.

“We have roads all over the county that once this lawsuit was settled they ruled and we have roads where we cannot help because they were never turned over to the county,” Crawford said. “If we do not have a deed on it we cannot service the road.

The area qualified as more of a subdivision, which was a completely different set of circumstances. Crawford asked the residents to look the requirements over and they commission would try to help them out.

“If it is a subdivision there are a set of subdivision regulations,” Crawford said. “If you can get it up to code as a subdivision you can bring it back to us and we will vote on whether or not to accept it.”

Gary said he would meet with County Engineer Ken Atkins and seek a helpful solution.