Lexington County Council is struggling to settle the fate of dirt roads where some landowners along the routes refuse to turn over slivers required to improve the country lanes.
Some council members want to shelve the projects, while others want to relay that threat anew to the holdouts, in hopes they’ll have a change of heart.
The fuss could lead to changes in the way county officials settle annually on paving a few miles each year of more than 600 miles of dirt roads.
It erupted after county public works officials recommended dropping plans to pave five miles on four roads near Chapin, Gaston and Pelion, in light of some landowners refusing for several months to agree to the work.
Five other roads totaling 6.7 miles in the Gilbert, Pelion, Red Bank and Swansea areas also are in jeopardy if turndowns persist, officials said.
Those deadlocks mean the projects should be set aside and replaced by others, some council members said.
“It’s time to move on,” Councilman Todd Cullum said. “Others are being held up.”
Doing that seems right “if people don’t want to help” by turning over small frontage needed to widen roads and add drainage, Councilman Smokey Davis said.
But others aren’t eager to set aside improvements long wanted by a majority of residents who often wait at least 10 years for the work.
More patience should be allowed to try to work out the impasses, Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat said.
“We need to make every effort possible to make sure these people are contacted and understand what’s involved,” he said. “I want to make sure they have rejected this.”
County officials could acquire the slivers of land needed by going to court, but that’s a lengthy and sometimes expensive effort that also generates resentment at council members.
The list of roads earmarked for paving is developed through a checklist based on factors such as number of residents affected, traffic counts, proximity to schools and length of time a request has been pending.
More than 300 requests are pending to pave about half of the county’s more than 700 miles of dirt roads.
Some council members suggest unanimous agreement among neighbors be required to seek paving.
The current fuss illustrates that step “could change that list (of pacing requests) a lot,” council Chairman Bill Banning said.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.