Going back to my discussion last year in the 3rd Quarter issue about the public versus private roads, I thought I would bring everyone up to date on what happened here at the Flying-N-Estates in Luthersville, GA.
Last summer I became aware that the county considered the streets in our community public. The county has never maintained the streets, we had always preformed any repairs needed ourselves, but the mere fact that the county had it on their records, and an official county road map, as public roads was a little upsetting to say the least.
First I went to the County tax assessors office and obtained a copy of the map showing the streets, runway and taxiway as the parcel we paid taxes on each year, and a copy of the tax digest with the description “roads and airstrip”. I also obtained a letter from the tax assessor’s office attesting to the fact that we indeed did pay taxes on the property. By we, I mean the homeowners association, a corporation that owns the properties, of which I am an officer.
Next I obtained a copy of the plat for the subdivision and a copy of the deed showing the homeowners association as the owner of the properties. I took the plat and reduced it to letter size and highlighted on it the properties described in the deed, which is the same as what the tax map shows, but in more detail.
Then I took a photograph of the sign at the entrance that says underneath our name that the property is “posted, private, owners, guests and deliveries only”.
Finally I drafted a letter to the County Commission Chairman, and the County Administrator, stating the facts, that the homeowners association owned and maintained the properties described in the deed, including the streets. I listed each piece of evidence I included with the letter and what it was. Then in closing I stated that we were requesting the county to take such steps as they deemed necessary to change their records, maps, etc to reflect the private ownership of the streets in our community, and that they should inform maintenance personnel to not perform any maintenance or repairs of the streets.
What happened surprised us a bit. The county mailed all property owners and the homeowners association letters informing them that the county commission would, at a regular meeting on April 12 of this year, consider a request to “abandon” the two streets to the ownership of the homeowners association. As it turns out, the commission rubberstamped the action, apparently realizing that abandoning the streets that they never owned was the only way they could get them off their books…and save face too.
I obtained an official copy of the minutes of the commission meeting and filed them in our records so that we would have the evidence on hand should we encounter an unknowing and uncooperative county employee in the future.
The private ownership of our streets is important to us as it allows us to keep out the criminal element and the “riff-raff”. It also prevents someone from acquiring adjoining property that abuts the streets and tying onto the streets. They help provide the residents of our community with a safe, friendly neighborhood to live in.
I suppose the moral of the story is that if you have an arrangement like ours with privately owned streets your homeowners association should check every few years to make sure that some public entity hasn’t claimed them surreptitiously, either accidentally, or on purpose, and take steps to defend the properties from such ownership claims. You snooze, you lose!
As a footnote, we were so confident that the County would indeed “abandon” the streets, that the week before the County Commission meeting we resurfaced all of our streets, about 1.4 miles, at a cost to us of over $60,000, money which we had been saving up for just such a purpose. We now have nice smooth pleasant to walk and drive on streets. Before the paving they had been a thin layer of tar and gravel surface treatment with lots of repaired potholes and were very rough and uneven.
Charles Hanna Secretary-Treasurer Flying-N-Estates, Inc. P. O. Box 686 Luthersville, GA 30251 P. S. I received an email from a gentleman last fall about hangar doors built from hardware kits. I was supposed to get back with him but lost track of the email address and did not respond to him. If that person is reading this they may contact me again if they are still interested in seeing one completed and in use.