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One woman’s persistence over a road problem might pay off.
Sharon Brown lives in Pioneer Village subdivision south of Rockwood. Month after month, she’s spoken at Roane County Commission meetings about the desperate state of her road.
The ride is so rough, she said, delivery trucks have quit coming.
“I don’t want to make nobody mad over there, but also I want something done,” she said.
Brown lives on Bournemouth Drive. Deep ruts make traveling the dirt-and-gravel road tricky.
“You better bring a four-wheel drive, a jeep or something whenever you come out here,” Brown said.
Roane County Road Superintendent Dennis Ferguson said he can’t help the residents on Bournemouth because it isn’t owned by the county.
“As an elected official, I cannot work on a private road,” he said. “I can’t fix a private road until the county takes it over.”
Ferguson, however, added that he would work on the road if commissioners give him the go-ahead.
Some commissioners indicated at last month’s meeting that they are willing to do that for Brown.
“If it’s from here to across the street, if that gets a certain amount of it done, maybe we need to talk at the road committee with the commissioner (Ferguson) and see if he’d be willing to do something small,” Commissioner Stanley Moore said.
“I happen to agree with my cohorts here,” Commissioner Bobby Collier added. “We need to tell Dennis to fix the rut, put some stuff on it, but I’m not willing to take the whole section.”
The county could be violating the law if it does work on Brown’s road.
“It’s owned by a man that’s passed away,” County Attorney Tom McFarland said. “It’s not owned by the county. The law won’t let you take public funds and put them into private roads.”
Roberta Dennis doesn’t live in the subdivision, but owns property on Bournemouth Drive. She doesn’t disagree that it’s a private road, but said the county should remedy the situation because the residents have been paying property taxes.
“That’s one of our big gripes,” she said.
Commissioner Steve Kelley asked McFarland if the county could take over the road by eminent domain.
“For it to become a county road, you would have to either use eminent domain, or someone would have to raise those roads to county standards and give them to the county,” McFarland said. “That’s the only two ways it can happen.”
Kelley said the county needs to work on the problem and try to find a solution.
“Like Mr. Moore said, there does come a point where we have to represent the people of the county,” he said.
Brown said she spoke briefly with McFarland about the road situation.
“I know that people are hurting out there, but at the same time, I don’t know that this body (the commission) has any authority to do anything for them,” McFarland said.
Commissioner Ron Berry said Brown has an affidavit that states the county has worked on the road before.
“But that’s only one of several factors you consider in determining if it’s a county road,” McFarland said. “That affidavit I don’t think would go very far.”
Brown said she’s not giving up and plans to speak again at the Dec. 10 commission meeting.
“Nothing’s changed,” she said. “The ruts are worse than they were when I first started (speaking at meetings) back in the spring.”