The Cleburne County Commission on Monday heard from residents upset about the inconvenience and expense of moving fences out of the county right-of-way to allow paving on County Road 10.
The county has the opportunity to get more than $500,000 in Alabama Department of Transportation funding to repave the road; but only if the encroachments are removed, said Probate Judge Ryan Robertson, chairman of the commission.
Resident Joe Farlow asked why the county waited years to notify residents of the problem. There are chicken houses within the right-of-way that have been there since he was a child, he said.
“You’ve got people buying property thinking everything’s fine,” Farlow said.
Robertson said the county has been held accountable by ALDOT for encroachments for the last several years. The county has notified not only the CR 10 residents, but those along other roads, of encroachments as it works on the roads, he said.
“Basically, your fence is on county property, which belongs to the people,” Robertson said.
But Farlow was worried about the expense of moving his fence. He returned to his seat obviously unsatisfied.
Resident Joey Hanson questioned whether the road was ready to handle drivers’ increased speed once the road was paved.
“You know a paved road speeds (traffic) up, a lot,” Hanson said. “If y’all don’t take those curves out and fix that bridge down there, there’s going to be a lot of people dying.”
Robertson said the speed limit will be 45 mph after the road is repaved. County Engineer Shannon Robbins said that the bridge on County Road 10 is not one of those ALDOT approved for replacement with the grants the county was awarded by the state last week.
“Unfortunately, that bridge is not qualifying in this program,” Robbins said.
Attorney Doug Ghee told the residents in the audience the county is obligated to follow state and federal rules when spending state and federal money on projects.
“The law charges people before you put up fences or signs or buildings, we charge them to make sure that they’re on their property, not on the neighbor’s property or on the county’s property,” Ghee said.
In other business the commissioners:
-Recognized County Administrator Steve Swafford for receiving the 2013 Excellence in County Administration Award from the Association of County Administrators of Alabama.
-Recognized Cane Creek Volunteer Fire Department for reducing its Insurance Services Office rating to five. The lower rating could mean lower property insurance rates for people in the department’s coverage.
-Lowered the speed limit on County Road 201 to 25 mph.
-Authorized the county highway department to fill a well at the Mars Hill Primitive Baptist Church with the church paying the cost of the work.
-Declared its support for the Heflin Industrial Board, which is charged with developing a piece of property near exit 205 of Interstate 20 into an industrial park. The commission also allocated $25,000 to the board with the understanding that the commission will receive a plan on how the board will spend the money.
-Approved two liquor licenses: one for 3412 U.S. 431 South and one for 7000 Alabama 46 both in Heflin.
-Reauthorized entering into an agreement with the Cleburne County Community Action Agency for office space.
-Declared May 2013 to be Older Americans Month in Cleburne County.
-Restricted truck traffic on County Road 24 and authorized “No Thru Trucks” signs to be placed on each end of the road.
-Approved donating $1,000 to the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce for its buy-local campaign.
-Approved entering into an agreement with Celebrate Recovery, a nonprofit addiction recovery program to use county-owned space.
-Approved creating a committee to review Swafford’s contract and appointed commissioners Laura Cobb and Emmett Owen to the committee. They also requested the attorney review the contract and report back to them.
-Requested the county attorney create a system for each commissioner to have primary oversight over county departments.
-Changed the June and July meetings to the second and fourth Mondays of the month.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.