Marion County Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said during the March 20 meeting that it was a “sad day” when commissioners can override something that’s already been decided.
Dallke was referring to Limestone Road, which started out as a discussion item, until Commissioner Dianne Novak proposed opening the one-mile of road between 80th and U.S. Highway 50.
“I consider (Limestone) to be a part of the infrastructure,” Novak said. “It is a dirt road and nobody is asking for gravel.”
History of road
The petition to close the one-mile section of Limestone was approved by commissioners Dan Holub and Dallke, but the county only agreed to pay the publication cost and postage.
At that time, the landowners were required to buy the gate and related supplies for closure.
The seven landowners included Evan Yoder, Terry Eberhard, Gordon Wiebe, Troy Wiebe, Randy Windsor and Graeme Glaser.
A public hearing on closing Limestone was Oct. 17 with Eberhard, Wiebe and Shane Rives, another landowner, present at the meeting.
Rives said the section of road the petitioners signed off on is the most direct access to his property from U.S. Highway 50.
“If this road is closed, my property value will suffer,” Rives said.
During the public hearing, Dallke said people often get stuck on a minimum maintenance road and that it has been a problem road for many years.
“The surrounding fields are higher than the road, and during rainy weather, more and more of the road washes into those adjoining fields,” he said.
“There is no easy fix for this road.”
Rives said he was willing to fix the road and pay up to $20,000 to rebuild it.
Wiebe said that at the south end, the field is about three feet higher than the road, adding it would take a lot to build the road up properly.
Dallke suggested a vote be postponed until all three commissioners were available, but Tina Spencer, county clerk, said that if the vote was held off, another hearing would probably be needed.
Both Holub and Dallke agreed to close the road in 60 days unless Rives presented an engineering study.
A resolution to close a one-mile section of Limestone was presented for approval on Dec. 16.
Dallke said the 60-day time period given to Rives to present a plan for repairing the road expired.
However, Dallke said he wanted to followup personally with Rives prior to the official closure.
No action was taken at that time.
Spencer asked about the status of Limestone Road and if anyone had contacted Rives about repairing it in lieu of closing that section.
Dallke said he hadn’t been able to contact Rives, but asked the board for clarification of what would be accepted.
At the Dec. 30 meeting, Novak asked why the county isn’t collecting penalties or fines from farmers and other individuals encroaching county road right-of-ways and causing damage.
The damage on that section of Limestone Road, she said, is that damage is being caused by landowners farming on the road.
“Why is the county disenfranchising one taxpayer by requiring him to pay the cost of rebuilding the road?” she asked.
Novak said her suggestion would be to have the road department repair Limestone, and after doing so it could be maintained easily.
Although Dallke said he appreciated Novak’s point of view, it’s not always cost effective to maintain every stretch of roadway.
In mid-February, no resolution was passed regarding the road closing of Limestone between 80th and U.S. Highway 50.
A difference of opinion existed between Commissioner Lori Lalouette and Novak, who both want the road to remain open, and Dallke who is against the issue resurfacing.
Jesse Hamm, road and bridge superintendent, said the road is fixable.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it was initially,” he said.
The estimated time to complete the work was anywhere from 10 days to two weeks, but Hamm said he has other roads on his list prior to Limestone.
Another concern, which Novak said could be addressed at another time was in regards to legality.
Susan Robson, county counselor, said she needs to get clarification regarding voting on something or if it requires a resolution before it’s legally done.
Lalouette said there is a difference between a “vacated” road and “closed” road.
“The difference when a road is vacated is that the easement is gone, but closing is different requiring minimum maintenance,” she said.
That stretch of Limestone, Lalouette said has gully in the middle of the road and big washouts, which makes a difference.
In other business, the commissioners:
• went into a 15-minute executive session with Ray Cook, appraiser. After returning to open session, Cook tendered his resignation effective at the end of April or by mid-May.
• tabled a discussion with Ed Debesis, EMS director, after learning he underwent surgery last weekend.
• heard a presentation by Justin Bayes with Schilling Construction.
• listened to discussion by Gary Jacks, area manager, Dustrol Inc. regarding the concept of hot-in-place recycling in repairing deteriorated streets and highways onsite.
Jacks said the benefits include low-cost maintenance and flexibility being restored to the asphalt material.