Who owns the road?
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Oct 15, 2013 | 2264 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BRADLEY COUNTY COMMISSION Chairman Louie Alford, left, and Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones  listen as Commissioner Jeff Yarber makes a statement during a discussion about Healthy Community Initiative funding.
Banner photo, JOYANNA LOVE
BRADLEY COUNTY COMMISSION Chairman Louie Alford, left, and Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones listen as Commissioner Jeff Yarber makes a statement during a discussion about Healthy Community Initiative funding. Banner photo, JOYANNA LOVE
A subdivision developer error from the 1970s is causing a land owner some grief and giving the County Commission a complex road problem.

According to Bradley County Attorney Crystal Freiberg, a road in the Riverview Estates subdivision had been designated in a land plat as a future county road. The road was never built to county standards and never accepted onto the county road list.

The road was designated on the plat before the county planning commission became operational in 1972.

“Prior to that you could record anything you wanted to, you could take a plat, record it on a piece of paper and there wasn’t really anything to prohibit you from doing that,” Freiberg said. “The problem was there was no check to make sure you actually did build the building and these roads as you said you were going to on the plat.”

A woman who owns two lots on the “road” has decided she wanted to build a house on one of the plots, Lisa Stanbery said. Stanbery said the owner had contacted her to build a house on the site.

“She had bought her lot (in the ‘70s) ... been paying taxes all this time and I was the bearer of bad news to tell her, ‘You can’t get water in it. You can’t get power in it,’” Stanbery said. “She’s in her 70s.”

For tax purposes, the assessors office had the road on file as a county road and has not taxed property owners.

“The land for this road was never deeded to anyone else. It was never taken in by the county,” Freiberg said.

Stanbery said the road had been graded at one time, but never completed.

All of the lots adjacent to the roads are sold, so the original developer is not still working on the project.

“So, I was asked the question what do we do with this and who is the legal owner of this. Unfortunately, that answer is not easy or clear. However, in my opinion the road would go back to the original developer,” Freiberg said.

Freiberg said the road issue would make it impossible for property owners to borrow money to build on the site.

“No bank is going to give you a loan to build on something when the road is in limbo,” Freiberg said.

Assessing the original developer for taxes on the road could create another issue if the developer or his estate does not pay the taxes and it becomes delinquent.

There are other roads in the county with similar issues.

Fourth District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones and 1st District Commission Ed Elkins asked if each individual owned the rights of way and could be considered owners of the road.

“In my opinion the only way for this owner to get an ownership in this road would be to get a quitclaim deed from the developers and/or the developers’ estate,” Freiberg said.

The issue was given to the road committee for further consideration. Chairman Louie Alford asked Freiberg and Stanbery to be present at that meeting.

Elkins said whatever decision is made could set a precedent for future roads with this issue.

n Health Community Initiative funds were also discussed. Third District Commissioner Jeff Morelock asked if the Commission had a formal list of priorities it wanted the HCI grant committee to follow. The Southeast Tennessee Veteran’s Home was discussed as a definite priority.

“Even though we are going at a snail’s pace, we are within striking distance on the Veteran’s Home. I would encourage us to stay the course,” 7th District Commissioner Mark Hall said. “The need is great.”

Morelock said the finance committee would consider drafting a list of further priorities at its next meeting.

First District Commissioner Ed Elkins said he would like to see a formal list drafted and kept on record. The HCI committee does not award grants. It reviews applications and makes recommendations for approval to the Commission.

n Changes to the Commission’s policies and procedures were placed on the agenda for the next meeting. Many of the changes were minor and simply provided clarification. The suggested changes were the result of meetings of the county attorney with 4th District Commissioner J. Adam Lowe and 5th District Commissioner Jeff Yarber.

Some new sections were added which clarified how soon a commissioner can reintroduce a motion that had been previously voted down, how ad hoc committees are formed and a requirement that resolutions be available to the legislative assistant by 4 p.m. on the Friday following a Monday voting session.

n The Bradley County Commission Insurance Committee will be considering whether to renew the health insurance policy with Cigna.

Lowe expressed concern at renewing the contract for Cigna as the health care provider for county employees. He said the insurance provider had not reached an agreement with SkyRidge Medical Center to have clients treatment covered as an in-network cost.

Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said emergency medical care was covered, no matter which hospital someone went to.

“These contract disputes happen from time to time,” Davis said. “It’s not as black and white as some may want you to think.”

Other medical procedures done by the hospital may or may not be covered, according to Lowe. Chairman Louie Alford asked the insurance meeting to discuss renewing the policy and bring back a recommendation.