At their Feb. 19 meeting, county commissioners considered repairing a private road for the second time in two years.
Buck Street runs off of Ridge Road in Eastpoint. County Planner Alan Pierce said the ownership of the road is difficult to determine but it is not a county road.
At the meeting, Commissioner William Massey requested that the road be graded. “We need to upgrade it. It hasn’t been done in about nine months,” he said.
Commissioner Pinki Jackel asked whether Buck Street was a private road.
“It’s a private street, but our county cars travel it, police cars, and ambulances,” Massey said. “It has a county road sign. I don’t see why we can’t upgrade it one time.”
Buck Street was last upgraded in July 2012 by the county, at the request of former County Commissioner Bevin Putnal. Jackel requested, at the Aug. 21, 2012 meeting, that additional work be done on the road, but it is unclear whether work was performed at that time.
The July 2012 work was described as a one-time upgrade. Commissioner Cheryl Sanders said at that time that she didn’t want the county to assume responsibility for Buck Street’s maintenance.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Sanders read a letter proposing that private roads in Pine Coast Plantation, which is located near Hickory Hammock Road north of Carrabelle, also receive some attention from the county. The letter from the Pine Coast Plantation Homeowners Association asked to, “hire the county on an occasional basis to grade and crown the roads so they will hold up for a while.”
Sanders told her colleagues that “I’ve brought this up a couple of times and nobody wanted to do it, but they’re asking again.”
Jackel and Commissioner Smokey Parrish also requested work on private roads in their districts.
“I think y’all need to be very careful about putting our equipment on private roads,” said Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson. “(County Attorney) Michael (Shuler) brought this up one time before. It’s against the law for you to do that.”
Johnson said she believed the commission had discussed drafting an ordinance allowing county equipment and crews to work, for compensation, on private land, but questioned whether the ordinance had passed.
“There are attorney general opinions that say you can’t do that. If it was me, I would ask for an attorney general’s opinion. I was concerned when we did this a year or so ago,” Johnson said.
“It may be we need to go ahead and accept these roads for county maintenance,” Jackel said. “We can’t let these citizens go without services that they need. We have tried repeatedly to contact the owner of the road. We have to do something. We can’t sit back and do nothing.
“I’m not looking to create work for the county but at the same time, we do have taxpaying citizens there,” she said. “We don’t want to break the law and help people. We want to do things within the law.”
Jackel said that if the county accepts the roads, eventually some of them could be paved and the maintenance work for county road crews would be reduced.
The commissioners directed Pierce to investigate the possibility of accepting maintenance of Buck Street and other private roads.