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County sets terms for taking Kingfisher Road
Nov 15, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Residents along the Dubois-area route have until Dec. 1 to agree to three conditions for county maintenance.
After months of discussion, the Fremont County Commission has sent a letter to Kingfisher Road residents outlining steps before the county could accept the Dubois-area roadway for maintenance.
Commissioners agreed this month send the letter to residents of Painted Hills Estates and Riverside Acres Subdivision, putting the burden on them to fix issues before the county could accept the road. Kingfisher Road intersects U.S. Highway 26/287 about two miles southeast of Dubois and provides access to those subdivisions.
Commissioners asked area residents to resolve three issues with the road. If they do it, the county board indicated it could consider accepting the road for county maintenance.
First, the Painted Hills Estates Homeowners Association would have to have a storm water drainage ditch out of the public right-of-way and into an adjacent drainage easement.
Second, the association would have to maintain the ditch for at least once a year.
Finally, Riverside Acres Subdivision would have to move three power poles that are in the road right-of-way.
The ditch and power poles currently prevent the transportation department from being able to maintain it properly, the county has maintained.
"Without these changes, the commission will not formally accept Kingfisher Road as a county maintained roadway and will discontinue maintenance," the letter stated.
The letter gave a deadline of Dec. 1 for residents to submit a plan of action and schedule to the county transportation department.
On Oct. 1, the commission discussed an offer from Kingfisher Road residents to share the cost of moving the ditch. The county board determined it would be illegal to expend county money on a road that is
neither owned by the county nor a school bus route.
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. For instance, 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.
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, 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.