Roads were a major topic of discussion at the last Ashville City Council meeting – paved roads, dirt roads, out in the county or in the city limits -- and who is responsible for their upkeep.
Johnny Bothwell lives on Fisher Drive off Peaceful Valley Road in Ashville.
Bothwell said about one-quarter mile of Fisher Drive is paved.
“I’m just trying to get some clarification,” Bothwell said. “I pay taxes on that because it is in the city limits, and I cannot get anything done.”
Mayor Robert McKay a city ordinance requires that a landowner bring a road up to a certain standard before the city can take it over.
Building inspector Randy Thompson said the city passed the ordinance several years ago when a lot of subdivisions were being built in the city.
“The city voted not to build roads, and that you were not in the road-building business,” Thompson said. “If the landowner wanted to build a road to our specs, then we would take it over and be responsible for the upkeep.”
McKay said he spent about $40,000 of his own money on about 800 feet of the road where he lives, and it still hasn’t been accepted into the city.
Bothwell’s wife, Darlene, said she has been to the courthouse three or four times and knows that part of the road in question is in the city and part is in the county.
“We are asking the part that is in the city to be fixed,” Darlene Bothwell said. “We are not asking you to do our part, just the part that is in the city.”
Councilman Derrick Mostella said he had been out there to look at it, and right at the city limits sign, there is a drainage ditch and a pipe that runs through it.
“It has grown up around that area, and that pipe appears not to be draining well, and that is probably causing a lot of the problems they are having,” Mostella said. “If we could just clean out the ditch and pipe, that could alleviate a lot of their problems.”
Thompson said the city did not put that pipe in.
“That is taxpayer’s money if y’all want us to build a road,” Thompson said. “But the ordinance says we don’t accept any dirt roads or do anything on dirt roads unless they bring it up to specs, and then we’ll take it over. Or you can expand the city limits.”
Councilman Charles Williams said there is an easement back there from a long time ago when the land was divided up.
“Back in 2005, there was a big storm,” Williams said. “There were asbestos pipes in there, and they floated up. The county fixed it, but they never did put the right size pipe back in there to carry the flow of water. It started backing up and the water started running over the road.”
Williams said chert needs to be brought in and the ditches will have to be pulled.
McKay said realistically, the city cannot build roads.
“We do not have the money to build roads,” McKay said. “We’re barely getting by as it is. We just don’t have the revenue coming in. It’s not that we don’t want to help Johnny. The way things are drawn up, we just can’t go in there and upgrade the road. If we do one, we open up a can of worms, and we will break the city trying to keep roads up. We just need to do the right thing.”
Williams said the issue has gone back and forth between the county and the city for a number of years.
“I spent over $2,000 on that road down there at my place,” Williams said. “I feel sorry for the people who live down there behind me. They almost have to use a mule and wagon to get to their place.”
Williams said he knows they can’t do anything with nature and the amount of waterfall and flow of water that comes.
“As far as rectifying the problem, I’m willing to meet you halfway to get mine fixed,” Williams said. “I’m putting this on the table.”
Councilman Adam Abernathy said before he makes a decision on any of this, he would like to go see the roads in question.
“I would like to meet with Randy Thompson and County Commissioner Jeff Brown standing out there looking at it,” Abernathy said. “I need to see what we’re talking about. Right now, I have no idea what we’re talking about.”
McKay said performing work on private property is not lawful.
McKay added that a former Ashville mayor was investigated years ago about doing work on private property.
“It really was his own equipment, but those investigating him thought it was city equipment,” McKay said. “They got down his throat so we have to be real careful about all of this. I’m just being honest.”