To vacate or not to vacate?

Posted on October 26th in News

The map above outlines the roads discussed in the vacation hearing at the county court meeting on Oct. 19. The Route 1 blue line is referred to as the East-West Route and the Route 2 pink line above is referred to as the North-South Route.

County court holds hearing on Cannady road vacation petition

By Debbie Raney
Burns Times-Herald

The Harney County Court heard testimony regarding a road vacation petition filed by Barbara Cannaday during the court meeting on Oct. 19.

Cannady’s petition requested that the county vacate a portion of the old State Hwy 78., south of Princeton. In September the court asked Harney County Road Supervisor Eric Drushella to research the request and report back with his findings.

Drushella reported that the road in question had been given to the county by the Oregon Department of Transportation in 1952. The agreement between the county and the state includes that this segment of road “cannot be abandoned as public highways, but must be maintained for the benefit and service of persons living thereon and communities served thereby.”

Drushella also said his research included conversations with residents in the area, as well as Sheriff Dave Glerup. He said the residents had concerns regarding access to their property should the road be vacated, and the sheriff voiced concerns about disputes between neighbors, as well as emergency access to locations in the area.

Drushella’s recommendation to the court was that vacating the requested portion of the road would not be in the best interest of the public, and that the county would maintain ownership of the property.

Tyler Smith, speaking as Cannady’s counsel, said the vacation request was made due to repeated trespasses on private property. He said that the landowners who would be affected by the vacation have other options for access to their property.

Smith also commented that Drushella’s report didn’t deal with the issue of serving the public’s best interest. He said there was no residential need by the other landowners to use the road, but it would be “only for agriculture.”

Smith suggested that it would serve the public’s best interest if the county would obtain the north-south route.

Speaking on behalf of his family, Gary Marshall said as landowners with property  in the area they did not support the proposed vacating of this route. He said the portion of the road in question, “has provided in the past, and continues to provide, access for private landowners and interested parties, emergency services and government agencies.”

Marshall went on to say that there was a possibility of “a reasonable and historically-grounded solution.” He concurred with Smith that if the north-south road (known locally as the Jones Road) was reestablished, the east-west route would become less important. This road is currently inaccessible because Cannady built a fence down the middle, as well as tore out a cattle guard, leaving a ditch.

Also speaking against the proposed vacation, Linda Neale said the alternative routes suggested by Cannady are “not accessible.” Neale said that before Cannady had built the fence and removed the cattle guards, she had used Jones Road to get to her home.

Also speaking against the vacation were Richard Kimble, Robert Corson, Ken Thomas, Conly Marshall, Mark Neale and Paula Thomas.

The court closed the record on the hearing, and will render a decision at the Nov. 2 meeting.

In other county court business:

• Tom Sharp reported on an Oregon Emergency Management Association conference he had attended;

• discussion was held on  public meetings, which will be held regarding the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s proposed acquisition of the McDaniel Ranch in Malheur County;

• Clackamas County Commissioner Jamie Damon presented a proposal to develop a sister-relationship with Harney County;

• the court reviewed the 2010 Department of Environmental Quality’s Material Recovery Report for Harney County;

• discussion was held on the North Steens Environmental Impact Statement, which was recently released;

• an application for an approach on Airport Lane was approved;

• the court discussed a denial by the Bureau of Land Management to allow Roaring Springs Ranch to graze the Tombstone Pasture on the South Steens Allotment.

• and the court reviewed a letter from the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners, regarding the wolf plan.

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