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County might agree to take on road near Dubois

Oct 6, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

There are several conditions that would have to be met, however.

Fremont County Commissioners have signaled they would be willing to accept a road near Dubois for county maintenance -- per the request of homeowners along the route -- if several criteria are met.

The county commission decided that a drainage ditch and several power poles along Kingfisher Road would need to be moved out of a public access right-of-way before the county will maintain the roadway. Commissioners also wanted to get another 10 feet added to the public access right-of-way from a 58-foot drainage and utilities right-of-way.

"Are we at the point where we can tell the residents that Painted Hills has to fix that situation (with the power poles and ditch) if they want the county to take that road?" commission chairman Doug Thompson asked.

Commissioner Stephanie Kessler was not ready to commit, citing a concern that even with the obstacles moved, the right-of-way still would be only 50 feet.

The county typically only accepts roads with at least 60-foot right-of-ways.

"If they're going to fix (the ditch and power poles issues), they might as well add another 10 feet (of right-of-way) on there, move the power poles, move the ditch, and then we'd take the road," Thompson said.

The county board decided to send a letter communicating their position to the residents' spokesmen and the Painted Hills Subdivision homeowners association.

"This is where we're at right now, if you want to proceed, you guys work it out and come to us with a solution," Thompson said, suggesting what the thrust of the letter should be.

The road intersects U.S. Highway 26/287 about two miles southeast of Dubois and provides access to the Painted Hills and Riverside Acres subdivisions.

Commissioners also thought they could force the company owning the power poles to move them if necessary because they are in a right-of-way dedicated to public access.

"I believe we can make them do it at their expense because they put them in the right-of-way," commissioner Travis Becker said.

Thompson thought residents and the company should work together to move everything.

"If they could work something out, kind of a cost-sharing -- I'd kind of like them working out a solution rather than us mandating a solution," he said.

Past maintenance

The county had maintained the road until earlier this summer when commissioners decided it was not a county road and the road's right-of-way was too narrow for the county to keep up.

The road right-of-way is 33 feet wide and runs north-south. West of the road is a 17-foot public access right-of-way, and west of that is a 58-foot utility and drainage easement.

The total right-of-way for public access along Kingfisher Road is 50 feet, but the ditch for Painted Hills and power poles are within the 17-foot right-of-way, effectively narrowing the usable space.

The county usually only accepts roads for maintenance if they have a 60-foot public access right-of-way, but exceptions exist.

A short portion of the road between the highway and across the Wind River has been accepted as a county road and has a 50-foot-wide right-of-way.

Residents

A group of residents from the two subdivisions in the area came to commissioners Aug. 6 to ask them to accept Kingfisher Road as a county road. Residents thought plats and other documents showed the county had accepted the road previously.

Commissioners said they thought the county never had accepted it for maintenance.

Documents presented at the Sept. 17 meeting made divergent statements, but commissioners were confident the county never had accepted the road.

At the meeting, county transportation superintendent Dave Pendleton presented a copy of the 1967 plat of Riverside Acres that said Kingfisher Road was a county road.

An amendment to the plat from 1979 said the road had never been a county road,m and Fremont County had never accepted it for maintenance, he said.

Regardless of what the plats say, there is a separate, formal process for accepting county roads, Pendleton said.

"Even if the county, through the subdivision approval process, said we'd take it on, that would violate state law," Thompson said.

Related content:
 
Fremont County Commission
Dubois