DOUBLE SPRINGS - A group of concerned residents recently approached the Winston County Commission, questioning the status of the road leading to Cypress Pointe Subdivision, after the commission paved the road 20 years ago, yet presently does not claim it is a county-maintained road.
The county road department reviewed information received at the meeting concerning the maintenance status of John Hendriks Way.
“We determined it had never been properly accepted by the county,” confirmed Winston County Road Engineer James Glasgow. “...It is not county maintained.
“We gave the homeowners in the area an opportunity to get on the county maintenance system. We have got to come up with an assessment of the road condition, which will have to be brought before the commission,” Glasgow added.
During a recent commission meeting, Glasgow, Kenney said, came by to visit him, showing him the county map that shows John Hendriks Way officially classified as a private drive.
“This presentation today is my appeal that I believe that road has been misclassified,” Kenney addressed the commission. “We, the residents appeal that it be classified as a county maintained road.”
Everett asked Glasgow if he had checked to see if John Hendriks Way was a public road.
Kenney explained that six residences are located on John Hendriks Way which is 6/10 of a mile in length. Residents had sought input on the road from Hendriks, who developed the area. Hendriks has since passed away.
“As you could guess, this was a bit of a hunting expedition,” Kenney noted.
As part of his research, Kenney visited the Winston County Courthouse earlier this year and researched records of commission meetings dating back to around 2000.
Kenney found records from a July 23, 2001, commission meeting that a motion was made by then-commissioner Quinton Humphries and seconded by Roger Hayes to approve the preliminary plat and construction plans for Cypress Pointe Subdivision, contingent upon a cul-de-sac that must provide access to all three lots as recommended by the county engineer. All voted in favor
During a Sept. 10, 2001, commission meeting, Humphries made a motion seconded by then-commissioner Jeff Hood to accept the final plat for Cypress Pointe Subdivision, with all voting in favor.
Kenney also submitted in his handouts that he found from a March 8, 2007, commission meeting that a motion made by then-commissioner Tommy Farmer and seconded by Roger Hayes to approve upon recommendation of the county engineer the final plat only of The Hampton’s subdivision, with a note stating, “approval of a subdivision final plat does not constitute that the county is accepting the subdivision road for maintenance.”
In the handouts were letters from various residents at Cypress Pointe appealing to have county maintenance for John Hendriks Way.
Hayes noted the county paved the road in question about 20 years ago, but it should not have been paved because the road was officially not recorded as a county maintained road, according to the statute of limitations.
“They didn’t check it out good enough to see if it was a public road,” Hayes stated. “The county can’t pave it.”
Hayes said the commission still had to make a decision regarding the road, with discussions still ahead with Glasgow and Everett, who represents district 1, where the road in question is located.
“We made a ruling that any (road) that is brought in must be under a five-year plan,” Hayes pointed out. “That road should be brought under a five-year plan, too, because it has never been talked about bringing it in as a five-year county road.”
The commission issued a ruling a few years ago that any road that is brought in as a county road or for county maintenance must be under a five-year plan, where any failures must be corrected by the homeowners who live along the road, Hayes said.
If for five years the road is properly maintained by the homeowners and passes inspection, the county can take over the road for future upkeep and maintenance.
“If it’s major failures, it’s up to the people in that area,” Hayes noted. “We haven’t made a decision as to how we’re handling that yet.”
Glasgow added the county is not under any obligation to take on any road even after the five-year agreement is met.
“What I’m basing my facts on is we passed a rule that anything from that point forward is supposed to be under a five-year agreement,” Hayes added. “We’ve taken all these other roads in as a five-year plan, and we need to take that one in as a five-year plan too.”
Kenney noted he sought records that would prove his road was a county road.
“That record doesn’t exist,” he informed commissioners. “I am appealing that it should have.”
Kenney then asked why it was not until 2007, that he started seeing the clause that reads approval of the final plat does not constitute acceptance for maintenance.
“That clause shows up in 2007,” said Kenney.
One of the residents who lives on John Hendriks Way was wanting to put up a mailbox along the road, but was informed by the postal service that they could not deliver mail to a private road, Kenney explained.
“We do run garbage trucks on it?” Hayes asked, to which Kenney responded yes.
Everett explained they were also checking back in records.
“We’re going to respond to you pretty shortly,” he addressed Kenney. “The commissioners, all of us, we are going to know what the review is.”
Glasgow said it appears the road in question has a 30 foot right-of-way.
“We have a regulation it has to be 40 feet,” Hayes responded.
Glasgow said that amount came from his tax map, but he would double check.
“I would think on a plat, there would be a 40-foot right-of-way,” Hayes then said.
“When that road was matted out for tax purposes, that is a public road. It may be noted private, but it’s a public road,” said Everett.
Cummings said that even though he serves district 2, he was for every resident in Winston County.
“I know what you are saying and where you are coming from,” Cummings said, addressing Kenney, “but because it was done 20, 25 years ago, doesn’t mean it can be done today.
“I am not blaming anybody. For instance, there have been private roads paved. We’ve got to do the legal aspect of it,” Cummings added. “It is the builder of the road’s responsibility and always has been to come back to the county and make us vote again to make it a county road.”
“How I wish I would have known that, or I would have been here to see you in 2005,” Kenney responded.
“We’ll work through it now,” Cummings said. “We just need to see what we need to do to work through it.
“It really looks bad on our part, but it is really not our fault, because none of us were here in 2000, except Roger was,” said Cummings. “It is the landowner’s responsibility, and you understand that.”
“When we vote in five years, that doesn’t mean the county is going to accept (the road),” Everett reminded. “The engineer reviews it and responds to the commission. If the road has failures and nothing is being done on the citizens’ side to catch it up, it won’t be accepted.”
“We need to give these folks an answer, up or down, or whatever,” Hayes said. “But we need to look at it, find out the legalities and where we’re at.”
“The last thing I am here to do is point a finger and blame somebody,” Kenney said.
“We’re not taking it that way,” Hayes responded. “If you have a problem, we try to help you solve it. If we can’t, then we need to tell you what we can and can’t do.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.