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County, family may have solution to road problem

POSTED: February 16, 2012 6:57 p.m.

A solution to a problematic road — which has left a family divided — may be within sight.

County Administrator David Crawley said a recent meeting between county officials and members of the Davis family resulted in a potential new route for Herbert Kessler Road.

“There were several alternatives discussed,” Crawley said. “We will have some more discussions with them and present something more formal in the future.”

According to a concept shown to county commissioners Tuesday night, the proposal has Herbert Kessler Road running from Midland Drive to Brookfield Drive, then running parallel to the current road.

“They said they were willing to donate all of the right-of-way necessary,” Crawley said, including the right-of-way through three lots that are currently bank-owned. Crawley added the family would buy those three parcels and donate them to the county.

The Davis family also may pursue Centennial Farm status for their farm off Herbert Kessler Road because it has been in the same family’s hands for more than 100 years. Irma Davis has obtained more land around the farm, Crawley said.

“They feel the road running through the farm property, and the county needing improvements on that road, would be detrimental to getting their designation,” Crawley said.

Currently, there are 401 Centennial Farms around the state. To qualify, those tracts of land must be a working farm with at least 10 acres of the original purchase still engaged in agriculture or generate at least $1,000 in annual income.

Before moving forward with the plan, Crawley said they will need to walk the property line and see what kind of impacts there might be to any wetlands.

“There’s still some more to be done before we can proceed,” he said. “I think it can work out just fine.”

The Davises had approached the commissioners late last year about closing the road. But other family members asked the county commissioners to keep the road open and consider making improvements.

“They still want to see the layout and have some further discussion, but they indicated a willingness to donate the all property needed,” Crawley said.

Commissioners sounded encouraged that a solution may be in the offing.

“It sounds like it’s a possibility for making everyone happy,” said Commissioner Vera Jones, “which is a win-win.”

Putting in the new section of road also could mean clearing up any questions of title to the land and the road, which was also welcomed by the commissioners. Crawley has said the county has been using a prescriptive easement on the road for years, which members of the Davis family have said isn’t so.

“It will also clear up a years and years and years issue,” Jones added.

The cost of right-of-way acquisition, absolved through the use of donated land, could be directed toward building a dirt road that would be the new corridor.

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