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Road dispute takes center stage at commission meeting

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

A large portion of the most recent county commission meeting was taken up by a road dispute involving two parties in the Shady Valley area. This dispute revolves around about 20 feet of unpaved road at Fleet Garland Lane, which may or may not belong to the county. If it does, the property owners would like the county to relinquish it.
On the one hand, the Tews
say that the neighbors are
“destroying” their property and have plans that should increase traffic through it to the detriment of a local senior with dementia. They also revealed that this portion of the road has not been maintained by the county. Road Superintendent Jeff Wagner backed up that claim, saying they had no idea it may be county property.
“We had no idea it was even a county road until they called us about it,” Wagner commented. “It’s never been maintained as long as I’ve worked for the county. It doesn’t even look like it’s ever been a county road.”
On the other hand, the commission’s policy on road disputes requires both parties to be present, which they were not. Legal documents on the property seemed to be inconclusive on whether or not the neighbors had a right to access this piece of land, according to Commissioner Rick Snyder, who previously surveyed the property.
“In my opinion, this is a civil matter that we need to stay out for the time being until we know where the county road ends,” Snyder explained. “Because what’s going to happen if we release this road and they put up a gate is fingers are all going to be going up at us for cutting them off, and here we go again with the third lawsuit in the last four years over whether a county road is a county road or not. I don’t think we need to go down that path until we know for certain. The county doesn’t have the ability to confirm or deny these people’s rights.”
The commission’s consensus was that an official survey needs to happen, and real estate lawyers must get involved. The commission voted to table any motions towards relinquishing this land until more information is available. Whether the land is private or public, it is still unclear whether the other party has rights to use the patch of land through their land agreement.
“I believe there is going to be litigation on this road no matter what,” County Lawyer Perry Stout commented during the discussion.
Who this property belongs to remains unanswered. The 20 feet mentioned could still be county land. Per Snyder, that small of a distance can only be determined at the third decimal point, while the county’s road map rounds to the second decimal point.