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Who owns it anyway?

Monday, February 16, 2009

* County officials offer explanation of private roads

The responsibility for the upkeep of private roads in Clay County is on the owners themselves.

Recently, a Letter to the Editor was published in The Brazil Times inquiring about the ownership of private roads and who is responsible for upkeep and other needs, like snow plowing.

According to Clay County E-911 Director John Turner, there are approximately 75-100 private roads within the county, many of which have been put in for private residences.

However, the county is restricted from providing services to maintain or clear private roads.

"Like many of the roads running through subdivisions, private roads are considered private property," Clay County Highway Superintendent Pete Foster told The Brazil Times. "The county is not allowed to be on private property."

Foster elaborated in saying the county is not allowed to plow snow off of private drives, even if a resident living on the road calls to request service.

"Whoever lives on the road is responsible for any work or plowing," he said.

Clay County Commissioners President Charlie Brown told The Brazil Times that even if the initial owner of the road moves or passes away, the county does not take over the responsibility of maintenance.

"Ownership of the road remains connected to the property," Brown said. "If two or more residences are on a private road, the owners are responsible for determining who will provide road maintenance needs."

He added the roads running through many subdivisions -- including Stan Mar Estates and Lord's Way -- are private and not designated as county roads.

However, under certain circumstances, the county has the choice on whether or not to take over ownership of private roads.

"If a private road is brought up to state standards, the county could take it over," Brown said. "However, it would be at our discretion."

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Well isn't that convenient? I wonder if discretion really means, who lives on this private road?

-- Posted by opininated on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 5:08 PM

Of course thats what it means.

-- Posted by tbdldam on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 6:03 PM

What about the damage that the County does to the end of the Private Roads??? While plowing the County Road they have caused MAJOR ruts at the end of our Private Road. So, it sounds like it will be my money to fix the damage that their employees, who are paid by my money, have made. Typical Clay County. Oh, we were also told by an attorney that the County has unrestricted access to these Private Roads because they are also considered Access roads.

-- Posted by smoke20fan on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 7:06 AM

a private road is nothing but a long driveway. Should we use tax money to plow our driveway? no wonder this country is going bankrupt. If i get my driveway plowed i hire someone to do it!

-- Posted by george1 on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 7:38 AM

Smoke20fan: Those ruts left at the end of your road are no different than what is left at the end of driveways. The county can't stop and make sure they lift their plow at each driveway when they are under time constraints to get the roads cleared.

opinionated: For a private road to be made public [by state or local government] it should be brought up to code with regard to width, base of road foundation and drainage etc etc. Legal costs regarding relinquishing of the right of way must also be done. While those who are land locked have right of way across another's land to access their property, if they were to let government take over that right of way, they then must allow all people access to the area by law. Some don't want others driving/parking down their various private lanes for a number of reasons.

I lived on a private road in another state. Those who lived on the road had a covenant that required each person to contribute a dollar amount each year to maintain the road on a percentage basis depending on where their house was along that road. This written covenant worked well as all who then bought a house there knew that the road would be maintained and that all had to contribute. We had a yearly meeting as they do in many subdivisions and other neighborhood associations to decide how the money would be spent each year and which person would take a turn to be the contact person for doing the work and paying with the collected funds. Then a copy of receipts would be given to each land owner involved so it could be applied to their taxes. Quite easy once all the details worked out if all can work with each other.

A recorded binding covenant on a private road also makes it easier for a buyer to obtain a traditional bank mortgage at better rates so in turn makes the property more valuable than being on a private road with no specific plan for road upkeep.

I suggest all who live on a private road to talk to their neighbors about a covenant like this. It takes a little time, cooperation, and money up front to get it all documented and recorded on the deeds but is well worth it for peace of mind and increased property values later.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 8:12 AM

I was having a conversation with my bf the other day after reading about the snow removal in the paper and it led me to wonder...how many people are employed by the city to take care of the roads? I really don't think there was ever that many, maybe ten, if that....My bf was amazed that a city that keeps getting larger doesn't expand depts like the road crews. Maybe I'm way off here, but I really don't think Brazil has enough people working on the roads to ever keep up.

-- Posted by gingersnap13 on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 2:39 PM

It's always interesting to me how so many people can read an article and pick out small bits of information to harp on.

All this article was trying to do was explain that the county would NOT be plowing private roads. The owners of the property would have to figure out a way to get the roads plowed themselves. Yet somehow comments came in about what the county's "discretion" would be, and why the county won't pay for damage caused by plowing. If you want answers to those questions, why not contact your county officials. I am sure that they would gladly explain everything to you.


-- Posted by chstrainer13 on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 3:09 PM

Gingersnap: a big lol. We do not have those extra needed people because "we" property owners whined loud enough to get property taxes lowered and now maybe to make state go so far as to put the caps into the constitution so it will be harder to change. With housing prices going down due to economy, tax rate may have to increase in order for us to just maintain the people already hired. If it becomes against the law to do that, then where will we all be. I live out in county and not in city but the situation is the same..."Money makes the world go around" as they say and "stupid is as stupid does". Both apply to our short sightedness.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 3:12 PM

Jenny, thank you taking the time to enlighten me about how things work. However, my cynical side is probably what made me make the comments I made. A long time ago (in what I refer to as, another lifetime) I worked for the county government. At that time the good ole boy network took care of each other and if you lived on a private road and needed a little assistance it didn't matter if you jumped through all the hoops or not, somehow their road got cleared. I apologize if this type of thing no longer occurs, but I can't believe that somewhere along the line there isn't a little, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

This is not intended to offend anyone, it is just an opinion. I do not live in the county, but I do live in Brazil. I honestly hope that anyone in county or city government plays fair and if they clean any private roads, then they clean them all.

-- Posted by opininated on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 7:52 PM

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