2008-09-06 / Editorials & Letters

Writer questions delay in road centerline determination

Editor:

I cannot resist making a comment about the August 23 Beacon photo and caption about the "railroad tie issue" along the east side of Somerset Road. The thing that struck me as being odd were the statements - "Last year, Licking County Commissioners asked County Engineer Tim Lollo to determine the true centerline of the road as the first step to resolving the Snedden's claim. That determination hasn't been made".

My thought was why would it take this long to do this task? Since I really don't know all the facts here, it sure makes one wonder why this controversy has reached this point. There is one thing for sure; there are "two" sides to this issue! Since this issue has remained "unresolved" for many, many years now, we can only hope that this lengthy controversy is resolved soon.

There is language in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) that covers this sort of issue - (ORC 5571.14 OBJECT BOUNDING TOWNSHIP ROAD MAY BE DECLARED A PUBLIC NUISANCE). The ORC clearly describes the actions/steps to be taken by the "BOARD" of trustees. Based on the Beacon report, the Licking Township trustees apparently did meet in public (a Board cannot discuss/deliberated this issue in secret) and then "unanimously agreed" to remove said railroad ties. I also have to "assume" the board also informed the person and asked them to comply with an order for removal, as stated in the ORC. Thus it seems that the Licking Township Board of Trustees is meeting the intent/ spirit of the ORC requirements. But, until the unresolved issue of where the public roadway is "supposed" to be located is finally cleared up, we really don't know if the landowner may indeed have a valid claim!

Now here's how a similar issue went down in Bowling Green Township. This one was at the end of Cooperrider road, which is a 3.4 mile long, approximately 12 foot wide, winding, dead end township roadway. Let me describe how our GOB Trustee President Dan VanBuren handled it. I think it shows just how far a public official can/will go off the beaten path, in order to try to intimidate and harass a resident!

On October 28, 2007, our GOB trustee decided (no board decision here) to call the sheriff out to my property. The official record (recorded by Deputy VanBalen) indicated he called them out due to "a dumping incident." Apparently my actions of placing landscaping rocks around the outer edge of my pond, which is clearly on private property, was considered a "dumping incident". He stated that the "snowplows might hit them" .......RIGHT!!!! You have got to be kidding? The deputy looked that the situation and then informed our GOB that "If the snowplow drivers cannot drive any better then that, then they really should not be out on the road." At the time, I was obviously quite upset, but I also did not fight the issue, since I knew the deputy was only trying to do her job. But I did my homework and researched the Ohio Revised Code on the subject at http://codes.ohio.gov/

Mind you, these "rocks" were approximately 30 feet from the centerline (meaning 24 feet from the edge) of the established public roadway. Yes, these rocks were on the very edge of the 30 foot "right-of-way" (the official incident report noted it as 6 - 8 inches) but they were NOT in or along side the officially established 12 foot wide public roadway. This area served (past tense now, since I sold it this year) as my personal driveway to a 28 acre lot at 13084 Cooperrider Rd. I should also note here that there was never any formal action taken by the board of trustees (per ORC requirements) to actually "improve" the public roadway and thus push it clear out to the edge of the 30 foot right of way. You can read some more about this entire sad saga on www.will-kern.com, by clicking on the "The never ending story".

So in my case, even though he knew me personally, our GOB trustee never gave me the "common courtesy" to contact me first and ask me about the rocks! Most importantly, this "rogue" action clearly violated the established ORC 5571. 14 process. Any way you read it, it does NOT allow this sort of deliberate action to be taken without any sort of public meeting and a full deliberation/vote by the board. Of course, you also must know the applicable ORC and be able to read/comprehend what is says! HINT, HINT!

My case was certainly not a "safety or imminent danger" sort of issue. It was clearly a deliberate outright attempt of intimidation! A formal letter to the board about this and his comments about the possible "liability" of my pond (which is on personal property) has been ignored to date. You can see this and my other letters to the board of trustees on www.bowlinggreentownship. com.

I ask you, is this the sort of thing you want YOUR trustee doing for you? Or do you expect them to know/abide by the established ORC process they are supposed to be working to/under. Please remember this next year, when election time rolls around again.

I also have to thank the Licking County prosecutors office, which is now working with the County Commissioners and County Engineer to resolve the entire end of Cooperrider roadway extension/turnaround controversy. With all parties now jointly working on this, the entire lengthy saga of procedural errors (which started back in 1995) and the recent threats/intimation actions may actually come to an end in the near future. I can only hope that my assumption is correct. That"s all for now, but as the Terminator said, "I'LL BE BACK!"

Will "Watchdog" Kern Bowling Green Township

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