Board discusses using county equipment to plow out private roads
HARTINGTON — Cedar County Commissioners spent much of their meeting Tuesday debating whether they should be maintaining private roads in Cedar County subdivisions.
Dale Wieseler spoke with the Board about snow removal in a northern Cedar County subdivision.
Wieseler said until recently, the County “had always maintained the roads in that subdivision,”
With new Commissioner Chris Tramp in office, that policy seems to have changed, though, Wieseler said.
“It’s the county’s responsibility (to clear the roads) because it’s a public road,” Wieseler said. “The taxpayers have been paying and the County is the winner in this.”
Wieseler presented Commissioners with a plat of the Lewis and Clark Estates subdivision, which was platted and approved by the County Board in 1968. He also presented tax information about the assessment of property in the subdivision and several state codes he had discovered during his research.
Wieseler said when the County accepted the plat back in 1968, they accepted responsibility for maintaining those roads.
“A statement on the plat said it’s dedicated to the public use,” he said.
Commission Chairman Dave McGregor said while the subdivision may be dedicated to the public use, there is no statement saying the County will take care of maintenance in the subdivision.
Wieseler said if the County does not maintain the road some real issues could arise if an emergency call comes from there and an ambulance or fire truck is unable to get in because of the roads.
“If you’re not dealing with it, what if 911 can’t respond. You don’t want to be there,” he said.
Wieseler said he was having trouble understanding why the County would even hesitate about clearing these roads since they were talking about less than half a mile of road.
McGregor said the issue is much bigger than that because if the County agrees to maintain the roads in this subdivision, they have to agree to help out in all subdivisions in Cedar County, and “that just isn’t a good use of taxpayer dollars.”
Wieseler pointed out that the subdivision is assessed at about $4.5 million, so the County is generating about $9,000 a year in taxes.
“Having to clear snow there, your cost is minimal compared to that,” he said.
McGregor said he would ask County Attorney Ed Mattney for his opinion, but his first thought is that these are private roads and should be maintained by the property owners.
“Private subdivisions are exactly what they say — private,” McGregor said. “In my 12 years as a Commissioner, we’ve hardly ever done much with a subdivision. We’ve put gravel on some roads as a courtesy that’s about it.”
County Clerk Dave Dowling said he sent inquiries out and discovered that of the 23 counties he contacted, the majority of them said they do not touch private roads. One county attorney informed his board the County should not touch private roads.
McGregor said they would revisit the issue once the County Attorney had weighed in.
In other action, Cedar County Commissioners approved a bid for a new semi-truck for District Two.
Commissioner Craig Bartels said the bid from Sioux City Kenworth is for $129,259 for a Kenworth T-800 to be delivered sometime in September or October.
Board members also decided to move the April 23 County Commission meeting to Monday, April 22 because Commissioner Tramp has to be gone for a two-day Motor Grader meeting.
Commissioner Craig Bartels will also be out of town on April 23.
Road Dept. Supt. Carla Schmidt told the Board bids for a box culvert project in District 2 near Laurel will be opened on April 9.
Tramp reviewed information on a 40-foot bridge between Cedar and Knox counties on the county line at 552 Ave. He will need to speak with Knox County Highway Dept. supervisor Kevin Barta before the bid can be approved, though, he said.
Also Tuesday, former Commissioner Terry Pinkelman was named as an alternate on the Board of Adjustments.
County Surveyor Tim Gobel told Commissioners he is working to get a new small scale zoning map. The current map is too difficult to read and understand, he said.
Commissioners suggested contacting County Assessor Don Hoesing to see if the GIS mapping he receives can be modified to include zoning.
Tramp told Board members he attended his first Region 4 Mental Health and Mental Disabilities Board meeting. He had nothing to report from the meeting, however.