BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
An essentially-landlocked property totaling 54 acres will not be getting a break from the Greene County Road Committee after members declined to approve a request on Monday for the county to extend Break Tree Lane the 300 feet needed to reach the land.
Break Tree Lane, a small county road, currently ends in front of a home on the Freshour property.
A small field beside the property extends approximately 300 feet before ending along a fence line and gate entering into the 54-acre, landlocked Pearson property.
The property is located near Baileyton, with Interstate 81 running along the back side.
The Freshour family is currently allowing vehicles to drive across their field to the gate into the Pearson property, along a road that is little more than two tire ruts, in order to gain access to the property.
The Freshours have also expressed their willingness to work with Carter Real Estate & Auction, the real-estate company that hopes to sell the 54 acres as one tract.
John Carter, of the real-estate company, presented the road extension request to the committee on Monday after committee members traveled out to view Break Tree Lane.
However, members informally agreed that the path through the field is well below the county's subdivision standards for acceptance as a county road and would therefore be unfair to accept.
"You all are smart not to make it a county issue because it is stirring up a hornets' nest," said County Attorney Roger Woolsey in regard to the many other roadways in the county that are not up to subdivision standards but that individuals would like the county to add to the road list.
He recommended that Carter first check with the Greene County Planning Office to confirm that the property is "grandfathered" so that, if no subdivision takes place, a home could be put on the property.
Next, he recommended that Carter work out a right-of-way deal with the Freshours in order to gain documented access to the property.
In other business, Chairman M.C. Rollins noted that he presented Road Superintendent David Weems' request for new insulated garage doors, estimated to cost $39,000, to the County Budget & Finance Committee, where the request was denied on the basis that there are no available funds to buy the garage doors.
This topic sparked lengthy debate by the committee members concerning whether there is equal treatment among county departments, and concerning how the county would pay for everything from new garage doors to a new jail and the county's current debt.
Weems tried to pull the conversation back to the garage doors at one point, asking what he should do, since some of the existing garage doors are rusted through.
County Commissioner Nathan Holt suggested that the county could pay for the doors out of the Highway Department's fund balance, to be reimbursed by the Capital Projects Fund in two or more years after that fund is no longer depleted.
Another option, he said, would be to pay for the doors out of the $70,000 already in the Capital Projects Fund and put that much less down on the Greene County Detention Center's roof.
(The County Commission spent this fund down in its February meeting to pay for a new roof at the Greene County Detention Center. It will be more than a year before the county is able to pay for any more projects out of the fund.
(The fund receives about $3,700 a month in rent from the state for the Driver Service Center on Hal Henard Road. The fund only contained about $70,000 before the commission's vote to pay for the nearly $140,000 detention center roof.)
"Maybe we're not the right department asking for money," Commissioner Robin Quillen said.
"Seems like we're the last to ever get anything," Rollins agreed.
Commissioner Hilton Seay disagreed, however, asking the committee members to consider what he said has been $22 million in road bonds provided for the department in the last 10 years.
In considering funding for asphalt, Weems noted the need for long-range planning. He said that the life of asphalt is generally about 20 years.
Commissioner Holt said that the county would need about $3 million annually to pave 59 miles of road every year in order to keep all the county roads on a 20-year cycle.
Weems said his normal asphalt budget, without any bond money, is about $900,000 per year.
"People here wouldn't admit it -- the majority wouldn't -- but we get a pretty good bang for our buck," Holt concluded.