Some governmental processes experience occasional use for long periods of time then suddenly receive plenty of attention, and the county’s road vacating policy serves as an example.

Twice in the past few months, some county residents have requested to take control of county roads that border their property – and the Houston County Commission will consider a third request at its Aug. 12 meeting. Chief county engineer Barkley Kirkland said a few common themes emerge amongst the requests, which abdicates the county of road maintenance responsibilities upon the commission’s approval.

Kirkland said every request he has processed involved farmers who wanted to efficiently expand their irrigation systems to properties they own on both sides of a road. The requests have also involved dirt roads, which get damaged and littered when people joy ride on them, he added.

The newest request provides a bit of an outlier since it is based on a paved thoroughfare, McCord Road. The request, though, addresses land the county used as a right-of-way in the 1970s before it realigned the thoroughfare to fix a dangerous curve, Kirkland noted.

Essentially the newest request would correct a deeding error if it is approved next month.

“(Residents have) been using it, and we haven’t used it in 40 years,” Kirkland said.

Vacating roads can be a cumbersome and lengthy process. Residents who are interested in assuming control of a portion of a road must secure a petition that contains signatures of all adjacent landowners the request will impact.

Kirkland said his office often assists with the drawing of the petition. After those residents submit the signed petition, they must obtain a survey and legal description of the area for public notice purposes.

Kirkland’s office will then propose the request in a Houston County Commission meeting, where the commission will authorize the advertisement of a public hearing – usually set for a month afterward. After the public hearing is completed, commissioners will vote on the request.

The two previous requests – based on section of Faulkner and Zachary roads – gained approval.

Committee review: The Dothan Planning Commission evaluates subdivision plats, development plans – both preliminary and final – and rezoning requests inside the city limits. Though the commission will hear rezoning requests, it can only recommend actions to the Dothan City Commission – which has final say in rezoning actions.

Members of the commission are chairman Jerry Coleman, vice-chairman Mickey Davis, Gayla White, David Cornelius, David Brewer, Gantt Pierce, Neil Holloway, Milt Wood and Bob Whiddon. Supernumerary members, who serve on the commission when members cannot attend meetings, are Lori Wilcoxon, Aline Roberts, Ian Owens and Darrin Swan.

The commission meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m., which means July’s meeting is this week. It will occur at the Dothan Civic Center.

Meeting schedule: In addition to the Dothan Planning Commission, the Dothan City Commission will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Civic Center. The Houston County Commission will also conduct an administrative meeting Thursday at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the Houston County Administration Building.

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