The Lake County Board of Commissioners is considering adopting a right of way process for the Highway Department.
Right of way refers to a strip of land used as a transportation corridor. The land is acquired as an easement or in fee, either by agreement or condemnation.
At the County Board action meeting Tuesday, Sept. 10, County Highway Engineer Krysten Foster said her department has nine outstanding requests for access to rights of way throughout the county. She introduced a new process her department would take to set a guide to handle these requests.
“Some of these requests have been outstanding for a number of years,” Foster said. “I’m not asking you for action today, but I’d like you to consider how we can handle these requests in the future.”
The process that there are some limited cases where the county might be willing to abandon or vacate the current right of way area.
“In the case where a landowner is making the request to build a shed somewhere and they could if there wasn’t right of way in that area and we don’t see a future purpose for that right of way, then we’d be willing to go through the process to see about giving it back,” Foster said.
These cases would be limited as state law requires right of way space of 66 feet, with 33 feet on each side of the road’s centerline. Foster also stated that there are some areas where the right of way is greater due to the nature of the road, if there are culverts or bridges.
The right of way request would also have to be reviewed with other county departments to ensure there weren’t overlapping interests. For example, although the highway department doesn’t see the use of a strip of land, it could be used as a transportation corridor by the trails department.
In light of the time involved in a right of way request, Foster is suggested a $400 fee is attached to each request.
“That would account for the time I spend, and the highway staff spend, researching the appropriate documents and a publication notice that would be put in the paper for a hearing if the process went forward,” Foster said.
If the right of way request is denied, with little effort required, Foster said the fee might be returned.
The commissioners didn’t take action on the process request, but will consider the issue and may vote on it at a future meeting.