Hamblen County Road Superintendent Barry Poole presented a proposal during Monday’s Public Services Committee meeting in the hopes of making roadways safer.
The proposal would compel property owners to be financially responsible if their driveways wash out on to the roadways.
Washouts can, and have, caused wrecks due to drivers being forced into the opposite lane or sliding on debris.
“We’ve been lucky we haven’t had more occasions, but there are some driveways that are really steep and they wash out every time,” Poole said. “We’re going to try to work with those folks. It is not our desire to police anyone, but we do get a lot of complaints from drivers and neighbors and we need to get it taken care of. It’s not an easy solution.”
Poole used one example to explain why the county is looking at imposing action upon owners who ignore the violation, should it pass at next weeks County Commission meeting.
“Something I think people don’t consider. When you build a driveway and you buy the stone, you purchase that material and it’s yours,” Poole said. “If you put it down, and it washed into the road it’s still yours. If the roadway department took the gravel that you paid for then you would be upset.”
Property owners would not immediately face a fine, according to the proposal.
The first step of action would be the County Highway Department cleaning up the washout that remains in the roadway for a period of 48-hours. The department may clean it up before that time, depending on how whether or not it is a public safety problem.
The department would then attempt to contact the property owner by phone and with a follow-up letter explaining the new policy and procedure.
Should the property owner ignore the new policy, and refuse to fix their driveway, and a second washout occurs—then the property owner may receive a fine from the highway department cleaning up the washout.
If a second washout occurs, the property owner would receive a notice of violation, and fines may be levied if no corrective action is undertaken on the part of the property owner.
If no correction action is taken, and no appeal is filed, a citation could be issued for a court appearance where more fines may be imposed.
“It’s your responsibility as a property owner to maintain your property and not endanger others,” Poole said. “Deep down I have no desire to do this but it needs to be approached because of the safety aspect.”
The commission also discussed the possibility of limited discretion for disadvantaged residents who may qualify.
-By Aletheia Davidson, Tribune Staff Writer