Home News Local News Rancher argues his case during county road hearing

Rancher argues his case during county road hearing

Chaves County itself is seeking to close, or vacate, 12 county roads this year, according to Chaves County Public Services Director Bill Williams. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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One of 20 applications debated

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners is considering 20 road applications this year, with some controversy voiced at a recent public hearing about one of the requests.

The annual decisions regarding road closures or road additions frequently cause a great deal of upset among neighbors or on the part of sports enthusiasts or hunters who want quick access to public lands. But at a public hearing held Thursday by the commissioners to listen to residents affected by the 2019 applications, only one person expressed concern about the process.

Dick Aber, owner of the Little Cowboy Ranch, has requested that the county maintain about a half-mile of Chickory Road, about 55 miles from Roswell.

Apparently the county had maintained it for many years — at least 35 years, according to Aber. But Joe West, Road Department manager, explained to commissioners he instructed crews to stop “blading” it about eight months ago because it is not a county road.

Aber told commissioners he purchased the property thinking that Chickory Road was county-owned and county-maintained and that it will cost him a lot to maintain it himself.

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“It is important to have the road maintained because the draw does run water on occasion … and it becomes difficult to cross,” he said.

Aber added that the county made efforts to improve the road a few times and that he has documents from federal agencies that indicate that those groups consider it a county-maintained road.

Chaves County Manager Stanton Riggs said the road is not owned by the county and that it cannot control how federal agencies refer to it.

The three appointed freeholders who visited the roads March 5 to give initial judgments regarding all 20 applications recommending denying Aber’s request because “there is no public interest in maintaining this road,” according to county documents.

Commissioners are scheduled to visit all 20 roads themselves. Then they will vote on whether to close, adopt or assume maintenance of them, either at the time of the visit or, more typically, at a later Board of Commissioners meeting.

The other 19 applications under consideration include three requests from area residents for the county to begin maintaining roads. Thirteen applications ask the county to vacate, or close, county roads, with 12 of those applications made by the county itself. Bill Williams said some of those vacation requests include private driveways and short roads that dead-end and are not regularly used by the public. The remaining three applications ask the county to assume ownership of private roads.

The freeholders recommended approving all of those 19 applications and no opposition to the requests were voiced during Thursday’s public hearing.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.