Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where is East Fork Road?

Erroneous survey places right of way in question


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Nearly a dozen Blaine County residents turned out to a public hearing on Tuesday morning to hear the answer to one simple question: "Where is East Fork Road?"

The broader answer to that question is that East Fork Road runs from Highway 75 mid-valley east to the small community of Triumph. But the precise location of the road, and therefore the county's right of way, has been subject to erroneous surveys that have left property boundaries ambiguous for some Triumph residents.

"We have two rights of way out there," said Brian Yeager, a surveyor with Galena Engineering. "There's a tremendous amount of error."

The road has been placed in two different locations in two different plats, Yeager said. Neither matches the actual location. The problem with the incorrect rights of way is that the erroneous ones encroach on private property, in some cases placing the fronts of buildings within county property.

"Generally, when a right of way is platted, its not intended to through an existing building," Yeager said.

The proposed right of way will cover a corridor of 25 feet from the road's center line and will be based on the actual existing location of the road, not where it is marked on county surveys. Jim Koonce, county engineer, said there's no chance the road has shifted since the original surveys.

"The best option is just to say, the road is where it's supposed to be and we're going to declare that right of way," Koonce said.

Wendy Collins, a Triumph resident, said during the meeting that the current incorrect right of way affects day to day decisions on her land.

"The question is, where can your fence go, where can you plant a tree, where can you have a garden?" she said. "It causes a feeling of unease when you own a piece of property and the front door could be right on the road, or even in the road."

According to chief deputy prosecuting attorney Tim Graves, the county commissioners have the authority to declare a right of way after a public hearing.

The erroneous survey also places the other boundaries of adjacent properties into question, but Graves said that is an issue for a later date.

"We're only concerned with the right of way in this proceeding. This is not a process by which we are clearing up all ambiguities in all plats in Triumph," he said.

The proposal places the county's right of way outside any existing buildings, and none of the members of the public objected during the meeting.

However, the hearing was continued until July 26, as commissioners Angenie McCleary and Larry Schoen were unable to attend in person.

Commissioner Tom Bowman said the commissioners will accept more public comment at the hearing at 11 a.m. at the Old Courthouse in Hailey. But for county resident and Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Pat Murphy, the issue is cut and dried.

"That road has been where that road has been forever," he said.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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