County to weigh in on road maintenance dispute

Published 10:03 am Monday, November 21, 2011

Udolpho Township residents and officials at odds over maintenance of township roads could have an answer Tuesday.

A group of residents asked the county board intervene and force Udolpho Township to begin maintaining their roads with winter plowing and spring grading.

However, the township board is arguing the roads in the subdivision are private driveways the township doesn’t have to maintain based on its policies.

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The county board is scheduled to pick up the hearing at 11 a.m. during its board meeting.

Homeowner Kathleen Oswald said the lack of road maintenance is keeping the homeowners from their work, which is translating to a public safety issue.

Oswald argued ambulance or fire officials would be hard pressed to respond to an emergency after a snowstorm.

“Our very lives and our very property is in danger,” she said.

The township’s attorney, Troy Gilchrist, argued the impassable roads are not the fault of the township, because the roads were never its responsibility. The roads never met the township’s criteria for taking on new roads, he said.

“It’s really up to the town board to decide when they’re going to open and maintain it,” he said.

In response to the homeowners’ requests, the township board drafted a resolution to outline its criteria of when it will take over new roads in subdivisions. However, those roads don’t meet the standards, according to the board.

“They’ve set up a policy to protect their local taxpayers,” Gilchrist said.

Costs could be a deciding factor. Commissioners asked the township board for any information it can provide on its costs of gravel and snow removal.

“It all boils down to the costs,” Tucker said.

Costs won’t be the only issue, as commissioners expressed concern over public safety, which Chairman Tim Gabrielson said has to be the county’s first concern.

“If we have a road that will not be plowed, I don’t think that’s a safe environment,” he said.

In other business:

The county board starts at 8:30 a.m. with Human Services Business.

The board will approve or deny a resolution to appoint Lisa Kocer, interim director of Community Health Services, as “Agent of the Board.”