Without land deal, Chinook Drive to be paved

Lucas Vance Staff Writer

September 10, 2013

BLAIR — Residents on Chinook Drive once thought the paving of their driveway would be postponed indefinitely, but it now appears the driveway is still on the County Transportation Committee’s priority list.

Nearly a month ago, The Herald Independent reported County Administrator Milton Pope and Fairfield County resident Val Green had come to an agreement to postpone the paving of Chinook Drive. According to Pope, that 30-day agreement will end Sept. 19.

The extra time was given to Green to negotiate a land deal with William Coleman — a main supporter of the paving. Pope said that if a land deal was reached — with no public interest to support the paving — it would be postponed indefinitely.

“Currently there is clearly public interest in the property with Coleman and the forestry commission,” Pope noted.

The CTC has already approved the paving and Pope said the county does have prescriptive easement over the driveway, but Green asked the question of why a land deal would change the legality of the CTC .

Billy Lucas, who has worked in public works for 30 years, said the county has always maintained Chinook Drive.

Both Green and resident Robert Shull oppose the county’s prescriptive easement citing the county has not maintained the road for 20 years.

According to an FOIA request by The Herald Independent, the county supplied a list of maintenance orders handled by Public Works on Chinook Drive from December 2004 through January 2013. County staff said additional work orders could be supplied, but were unavailable at the time the FOIA request was completed.

“The county has maintained that road for a very long time,” Pope reiterated. “It does have prescriptive easement over the road and there is a public interest in paving the road.”

Before the county and Green came to an agreement to postpone the paving, Pope said his staff made sure the county would not incur any additional cost by delaying the paving.

Even though an offer has been made to Coleman to buy the property, Green does not believe it will be accepted.

Green said Pope was pleasant during their conversation, but believes there was a misinterpretation about the 30-day agreement.

“We’re not giving up our right to have the road paved just because we may not reach an agreement on the land deal,” Green noted. “If they’re still insistent on paving the road, then we will most likely end up in court.”

According to Green, residents do not understand why the county and CTC are so forceful about paving Chinook Drive when there are many other roads in need of the service.

“The whole road paving program needs to be redone,” he stated. “It is not totally compliant with state paving standards. And I don’t want to cast too many stones here, but the general perception is that the county is always right and the people are always wrong.”