In the past, when residents petitioned Gila County to abandon a public road, county officials considered the issue on a case-by-case basis.
Last week, the Gila County Board of Supervisors approved guidelines that rule how, when and where a county resident can file for the abandonment of a public road.
"Now, everybody will be treated the same way, when they apply for a road vacation," said Gila County Dist. 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen. "Vacating a road means to abandon it."
In addition to the standardized guidelines, the county will now require a $250 application fee that pays for the "legwork" of the process -- "notification of the utilities, legal work, things like that," the supervisor said. Reasons one might file for such an application, Christensen said, include roads that encroach on one's property, or a home that might inadvertently encroach on the road. "That was the case with Rose Drive (in Strawberry)," he said. "The house was sitting 13 feet out into the roadway. The only way the homeowner was going to get that corrected was if the owner wanted to dedicate other property and build a road in there, or abandon that property, because there were other roads that went into that subdivision."
Other reasons might include roads that are on the record books but were never built, roads that are too steep for practical use and roads that lead to the edge of a cliff."We don't like to abandon roads that might still have a future use," Christensen said. "But if they go over a cliff, it's doubtful they'll ever be used as roads. We only deal with about three or four of these a year," he said. "Now, we'll be dealing with all of them in the same manner."
The following is a brief breakdown of the county's new road-abandonment guidelines:
- A non-refundable fee of $250 must accompany all petitions for abandonment of a public roadway.
•Petitions to vacate a road must be signed by at least 10 residents of Gila County.
•Petitions must include a legal description and map of the area. If there is more than one owner who will receive the vacated land, there must be a legal description of each area.
•Gila County engineers will conduct a field inspection of the area.
•If site passes field inspection, affected utilities will be notified and will have 30 days to comment or object to the vacation.
•Comments, objections and recommendations by the engineering department is forwarded to the Gila County Board of Supervisors for final approval.