Weighing 11th-hour concerns by one landowner, the Emmet County Board of Supervisors after a public hearing Tuesday approved the first reading of a resolution to adopt an ordinance that would vacate a two-mile section of 500th Avenue south of Maple Hill.
Reviewing the history of the proposed ordinance, board chair Alan Madden said the issue of road maintenance arose when the operator of a proposed hog confinement asked that the unimproved road be upgraded. When the county began to consider abandoning the road, Madden said all impacted landowners except one absentee landowner had come before the board at one time or another.
Madden said when polled every landowner favored vacating the road. However, the process required hiring an attorney and getting right of way abstracts up to date for the five to six affected landowners.
"We (the county) have incurred some costs to get it up to this point," Madden said.
Acknowledging that county engineer Roger Patocka had said the county would lose some road use funds with the road vacated, he said 16 acres of land would be returned into production and generating property taxes.
He said landowners would be responsible for bringing the land back to production.
When Patocka asked if the county was going to require landowners to fence off field entrances because they would no longer be a public road, Madden said the county would not do that since it doesn't require fencing other driveways.
"They (landowners) have the opportunity, they can put something across them, but I'm not going to require them to," Madden said.
David Berven said he would like to have 450-470 feet for a driveway he has along the west side of the road.
Dale Opheim said he would like having road access even though he would gain acres. Otherwise, he said he would lose access to the center of his property. And, since the county doesn't plow or maintain the road currently, he asked where the county would realize cost savings.
Madden said the cost savings came from not having to upgrade the road - whether for a hog confinement or a residence.
"What you're saying is your discouraging investments in your county," Opheim said.
Madden told Opheim he had been consulted on the matter, and that the board hadn't received any nayes up to this point - and that landowners favored abandonment.
"What I'm talking about now is accessing my property to get my crop out," Opheim said.
Madden said Opheim had access to the north and south. "There's lots of farms in that same situation," he said.
Supervisor Bev Juhl moved that the board approve first reading of the resolution, a motion supervisor Tim Schumacher seconded, and the board approved.
Madden noted next reading for the resolution would be 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10.