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INDIAN LAND – A crowd of more than 70 Indian Land residents attended an informational meeting on Monday, hoping to learn how to get their local roads incorporated into the county road system.
The Indian Land Action Council’s recent question and answer meeting, held in the gym of Indian Land Middle School, attracted residents from several Indian Land neighborhoods. Most were there to find out how to get their local roads into the county’s road system so they can be regularly maintained.
Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said the meeting was necessary because many of the residents who attended did not know how the process worked.
“Many people thought that if a road exists, the county could just take it, but it can’t just take property,” Willis said. “If a person owns the road, they need to present deeds or plats, come before council and have it be voted on.”
He said many residents also expressed their difficulty working with the county’s road integration process and some offered suggestions for how to fix the problems.
“It was a good meeting with a lot of good back and forth exchange of ideas,” said. “Some folks were hot about the issue.”
Moe Pitzulo was one of several residents angry over the inability to get neighborhood roads placed in the county system. As president of the homeowner’s association for the Brookchase neighborhood, Pitzulo said he was discouraged at the condition of his neighborhood’s streets. He said developers are part of the problem, because sometimes they leave a neighborhood without bringing streets up to the proper standard.
“We have potholes so big and deep, that a child could fall straight into the sewer,” Pitzulo said. “We’re not pointing fingers. We just want help.”
Also affecting which roads are accepted into the county system is a new ordinance approved by County Council last fall. The ordinance set much stricter guidelines for creating new roads if they are to be accepted into the county system. Willis said the previous road standards required 4 inches of stone topped with 2 inches of asphalt. The new guidelines require county roads to be constructed using 6 inches of stone, 2 inches of interim asphalt and 1.5 inches of surface asphalt.
Bryan Vaughn, who lives in the Legacy Park neighborhood and is a former council member, suggested at the meeting that the county “grandfather in” neighborhood roads that existed before the new standards were created. He said it doesn’t seem fair that homeowners who have lived in the county for years, and have been paying county taxes, don’t have the same opportunity to get their roads incorporated as people in newer developments whose roads meet the new standards.
“The reality is I don’t think anyone is asking for more than anyone else gets in the county,” Vaughn said. “We just want the same opportunity for maintenance as everyone else.”
Lancaster County councilman Larry McCullough said the problems are complex and he doesn’t see a simple resolution. He hopes to have many more meetings to “demystify” the process and strategize ways the community can get involved.
“The key thing for folks to do is to get informed, get involved and get engaged,” McCullough said.
McCullough says there will be another meeting in June.
The decision to incorporate a road into the county’s road system begins with the legal owner of the road, whether that be the developer or a homeowner’s association, Willis said. That owner must have proof of ownership and must also want to place the road under the county’s supervision. Ultimately, though, it is Lancaster County Council’s decision to approve the change, which could be done with a simple vote.
Also discussed at the meeting is who exactly is in charge of maintaining the roads once they have been incorporated. Willis said that under state law, if a road is maintained by the county, the county will fill potholes, but is not in charge of resurfacing. Instead, the County Transportation Committee determines which roads get resurfaced. The committee is comprised of seven Lancaster County residents appointed by the state legislature who oversee resurfacing, as well as the paving of dirt roads in the county.
The committee is funded by the state, but only receives enough money to complete seven miles of county road per year. With more than 1,000 miles in the system, Willis said it could take a long time to either pave or resurface all the roads residents have requested. To illustrate the point, Willis said that if the county stopped accepting new roads into the system, it would still take more than 143 years to pave or resurface every road in the county.
Informational packets handed out at the meeting are available at the Indian Land Recreation Center.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at 416-8416