Specific regulations for where and what can be placed in a road right of way by a property owner was requested of the Bradley County Commission Road Committee Thursday.
The request, along with one for the county to pave a cul-de-sac on Mill Hamlet Road, was made by attorney William Brown.
The committee voted against making a recommendation to the full Commission, because they felt an agreement to please everyone could not be worked out.
“The question that has now come forward to us is the area between the plotted property lines and the asphalt … What are the circumstances as to who has control of that area?” Brown said “And what rights do property owners who have land that abut the right of way area have to use that in lieu of the county’s maintenance of those areas?”
Mailboxes and shrubs were at the center of discussion that originated from issues between Mary Randolph and Allan and Loretta Jones. Randolph and the Joneses are neighbors in the Gracewood Hill subdivision.
The Joneses were asked to remove shrubs on the road right of way that were blocking Randolph’s view. The shrubs were not moved by the required date and the road department went to the Joneses house to ensure they were removed.
Brown said road superintendent Tom Collins was inconsistent with asking residents to remove shrubs or mailboxes from the right of way.
“What was his purpose to order the removal other than to become involved in what was a plot line dispute between two neighbors?” Brown said.
Pictures of a mailbox with a rock garden circulated to committee members as Brown asked why it was allowed to stay in the right of way.
Collins said he asked home owners to take out shrubs or remove mailboxes if they obstructed the view of the road. Brown said there should be specific regulations that everyone is aware of governing what is acceptable and what is not.
“Wouldn’t it be better to have regulations that say where people can put their mailboxs, rather then having the road superintendent have to make a unilateral decision,” Brown said.
Brown also suggested county guidelines about shrubs and trees.
Collins said he was all right with letting the courts decide.
“It needs to go to court and let a judge hear why its in court,” Collins said.
Collins also commented he was not in favor of paving the cul-de-sac.
Originally a cul-de-sac at the end of the county road closest to the two lots in question was supposed to be paved to a 50 foot circumference. The cul-de-sac was paved to less than 30 feet. Brown is requesting the cul-de-sac be paved to at least 40 feet. Because of how the lots are laid out, the Joneses’ access to the cul-de-sac is through a strip of land they own between Randolph’s property and a driveway.
The driveway from the cul-de-sac to the Jones’ house sits on land owned by their daughter. Brown said this could create an issue if the Joneses decided they wanted to sell their property. If the complete cul-de-sac was paved, it would allow access to the two properties.
“I am not using taxpayer money to settle a dispute between two people who are arguing all the time,” Collins said.
County Engineer Sandra Knight said paving the cul-de-sac could start a chain reaction of subdivisions making similar requests.
Knight said the county usually requires a space on either side of the road to remain unpaved. Knight said the area provides a place for people to place mailboxes or for maintenance companies to use.
The engineer said state law gives the county control of the right of way.
County attorney Crystal Freiberg said the law gives the road superintendent authority over the right of way.
“Sometimes people build really large mailboxes with brick, so we have made some people move then, especially if it was really close to the road,” Freiberg said.
Knight said residents had been told to move brick mailboxes in the past and letters were being mailed asking others to remove them.
Currently, the county allows mailboxes in the right of way so that placement complies with the U.S. postal service requirements.
Freiberg said any guidelines set out by the Commission would need to be county-wide.