New rules on paving divide Sawmills' council

Jul. 22, 2014 @ 08:24 PM

Sawmills now will take over a private road only if all of the property owners agree in writing, which for the first time will require the property owners to pay half the cost of paving the road, according to new private street acceptance procedures the town council approved Tuesday night.

But Councilman Joe Wesson said he wants Sawmills residents to know that the procedures are not “set in stone.” In fact, he and fellow council member Gerelene Blevins intend to make sure the procedures do not stay for long.

“If we approve this, we’re going to stop any streets in this town from being paved in the future,” Wesson said. “I did not pay one nickel for the street I live on to be paved, and it is a double standard to come up and say now that anybody in the future is going to have to foot half of the bill.”

The procedures say that the town will not take over a private road unless it has at least four owner-occupied residences, with at least one residence every 528 feet, and 100 percent of the property owners on the street sign consent. The owners will pay 50 percent of the costs to pave the road, and the town will cover the other half.

The road that Blevins and Wesson are most concerned about is Elmore Drive, which is home to four residences and a business, Mullhaus Kennels. Wesson said that Elmore Drive residents have wanted their road paved for quite some time and that the council has “done them people wrong down there.”

“The people (did) everything they were supposed to do, spent over two years in the process, requested that we take them in,” Wesson said. “There was nothing ever done. Those people have paid taxes down there for years. We did it for everybody else in this town that has a paved street.”

Blevins added: “I think we can afford to do a road a year. People don’t have the money to do it. People aren’t going to pay for this.”

However, council members Jeff Wilson and Johnny Wilson and mayor pro-tem Trena McRary Kirby said the terms of the new procedures were fair. Jeff Wilson and Kirby said that if the town took on the paving costs on its own, it would put the town in debt.

After the vote, community member Reed Lingerfelt said that the council members who voted in favor should be ashamed of themselves.

“Y'all done those people dirty,” Lingerfelt said. “Y'all done people dirty by passing that. It’s not right. You can find the money. This discussion shouldn’t even be taking place.”