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Stories Added - July 2009
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Commissioners order gate removed
Trinity Standard - July 2009
GROVETON – In action, which they expect could be challenged in district court, Trinity County Commissioners voted July 13 to remove a gate placed on a county road by a Precinct 1 landowner.
Following a public hearing held as part of their regular monthly meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved a recommendation from Pct. 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham that he be authorized to take the gate down.
“I can prove that the road has been maintained by the county since at least 1961 and it was probably maintained for a lot longer than that,” Worsham said.
The road in question is a short spur off of Fountain Creek Road near the Chita community.
He told commissioners that when the landowner, Dwight Pyle, first erected the gate at the intersection with Fountain Creek Road, he asked Pyle not to lock it until other property owners along the road could be contacted.
“Before that could happen, a lock was put on the gate,” Worsham said, adding that because of the locked gate, he could no longer continue maintenance.
“This is not a road that we maintain all the time. We do go in about three or four times a year and clear out the ditches and carry in a little rock as needed,” the commissioner said.
During the public hearing, two of the other landowners appeared and voiced their objections to the gate.
Franklin Tipton and Peggy Haggard both own property at the other end of the dead-end road and both said they wanted the county to continue to maintain it. Both indicated they had inherited the property through their grandfather, Roy Tipton, who purchased the land back in 1902.
“There has been over 100 years of public use on that road and there never has been a gate until now,” Franklin Tipton said.
Haggard noted that while no one currently lives along the road, her grandchildren use it to access the property during deer hunting season.
“What I worry about is what would happen if they were down there and there was some sort of medical emergency. How many gates and locks would the ambulance have to go through to get there,” she said.
Worsham noted that while the road has been informally called the Roy Tipton Road, the county never formally named it. It also was not placed on the 9-1-1 map developed by the county, probably because there are no residences along the road.
“It was overlooked, but we have several others that also were overlooked and we’re making those corrections now,” Worsham noted.
County Attorney Joe Bell noted that under state law, any road that was used by the public and maintained by the county for at least 10 years prior to 1981 is classified as a “by use” roadway and is a part of the county’s road system.
He noted there is no record that the county every agreed to abandon the road.
When asked if Pyle had been notified about the public hearing, Bell said he had sent him a registered letter but had not received a response.
Neither Pyle nor anyone representing Pyle was present for Monday’s public hearing.
Both Worsham and County Judge Mark Evans noted that they expect Pyle might challenge the action by filing a lawsuit in district court but indicated they were willing to take the matter to that level.
“We have a number of roads like this around the county and I would hate to set a precedent by not taking action,” Evans said. “We would be sending the wrong signal to others.”