Wednesday, July 31, 2013

County commissioners authorize right-of-way plan

Intent is to notify residents of their obligations

Express Staff Writer

    Blaine County commissioners have authorized the creation of a countywide right-of-way management plan with the intent of addressing encroachments within the rights of way in a “consistent and transparent” manner.
    The unanimous decision followed two commissioners meetings this month during which Hulen Meadows residents complained that their neighborhood was being unfairly singled out for enforcement of encroachment violations after many years of neglect.
    “I have been a little surprised by the reaction,” Commissioner Larry Schoen said during a meeting at the old Blaine County Courthouse on Tuesday. “People should know this, and if they don’t, this plan will help.”
    Schoen said he thought a plan would lead to “a clearer set of expectations and standards.”    Following a presentation by County Administrator Derek Voss on recommended components of the plan, the commissioners directed him to draw it up by about Jan. 1.
“I really do see this being a major project for me individually,” Voss said.
Likely components of the plan include the legal framework for enforcement, a list of priority enforcement locations, available funds for enforcement, methods of coordination with other jurisdictions and public education.
Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said the reaction of the Hulen Meadows residents put the county on notice that many property owners don’t want it to strictly enforce the law. He said the plan should allow the county to obtain its needs without grossly altering the look of a neighborhood, and suggested that it work with homeowners associations to achieve its objectives.
    During their meetings on the issue, the commissioners said encroachments into the 60-foot right of way can interfere with emergency vehicle operations and snow plowing, and that tree roots can buckle pavement and sprinklers can damage it.
Greg Moore:

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