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River Heights council gets earful on fixing Riverdale Road

November 18th, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Addison M.T. Hall

RIVER HEIGHTS –  The City Council heard from residents at a public hearing on changes to the plat map of Riverdale Road. The current plat states that all improvements to the road be paid for by the people living on the road, but Mary Barrus, one of the residents, wrote up a petition to remove this clause so the city would be obligated to plow the road and fill potholes, making the road safer.

Barrus said the petition was signed by all but two residents who were not named, one because he wanted the article amended rather than removed, and one because she did not want the potholes fixed for fear the road would be more frequently used by outside traffic, though she was willing to compromise.

The original document was made and signed about 40 years ago and Barrus said it should not determine laws for the current generation. “Thinking about way back in the time that we all signed that, most of those people are now gone,” Barrus said. “Wouldn’t it be better served for us as property owners and the city as the entity, to update it to reflect the people that are now living there?”

Barrus said the petition she wrote did not have to be what the council or community agreed on, but she and many others simply wanted some change.

“If you don’t like the way I wrote it,” Barrus said, “what would you like to have? Do you want to go back to the old one that’s still on the plat who represents dead folk? Or would you be of a mind to write something now that you can deal with and live with?”

During discussion about the removal of the clause, Lisa Ellis, who lives on Riverdale Road, said the real argument was not about the clause but was about who would own the road in the long run.

“When Mary’s dead and we’re dead and you’re going to have new people up here saying, ‘Who signed that thing? What were they thinking?’” Ellis said, addressing the council. “It’s the year 2013. I think you need to decide, do you want that road? Does River Heights want control over that road?” Ellis said if the road were clearly owned by the city it would fall under their jurisdiction to clean and maintain it.

Councilwoman Kathryn Hadfield agreed that the roads needed to be kept up, and felt the city had a responsibility to do so already. “Whatever it takes, I think we should do it and be responsible for it just like we are in any other road,” Hadfield said.

Mayor Bill Baker said part of the problem is the fact that, to be an acceptable road, Riverdale would need to have storm drains and space for runoff due to its proximity to Logan. He said the council would need to take into consideration the time it takes to fix the road and the cost before coming to a decision. He also warned that any decision the council made could upset some of the residents.

“Everybody down there’s going to get upset when they go in and they make that road passable with runoff,” Baker said, speaking about possible construction on the road. “Where are we going to put the storm retention ponds? Whose property wants to give me a storm retention pond?”

Related story: Potholes on unpaved road an issue in River Heights

The council said they were willing to help fix Riverdale Road but there needed to first be agreement on what was to be done and what needed to change on the plat map. Councilman Blake Wright said the most important thing to do was clarify what the city could or couldn’t do to maintain the road without improving it and making the residents pay.

The council decided to have Barrus write up a new petition and, if it was not unanimously signed, bring it before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The petition would have to clarify exactly what the city would need to do to maintain the road without improving it, and amend the section of the plat map that makes residents pay for the public road, instead of removing it outright.


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