Home News Local News Two local families clash over road closure

Two local families clash over road closure

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A disagreement between long-time neighbors about the possible closing of a portion of a road southeast of Roswell was the only controversy voiced publicly this year during the annual public road hearing held by the Chaves County Board of Commissioners.

Both parties indicated that they are attempting to resolve the issue and said they have worked cooperatively together in the past.

The road hearing was part of the commissioners’ Thursday meeting and precedes the commissioners’ tour later this month of 13 roads that county residents or the Chaves County Road Department have asked to be adopted or closed by the county or subject to a “change in status.” A status change means the county either will begin or will cease maintaining the road.

Originally 14 road requests were made this year, but a road closure application made by the Road Department was not recommended by the freeholders, the citizens appointed by commissioners to conduct the first round of tours and give their opinions. The freeholders recommended against vacating 1,610 feet of Studdard Road near Mark Road that freeholders said appears to be a driveway. They reported that closing it would create a landlocked parcel.

At Thursday’s meeting, Tim Jennings and Chad and Ken Barbee, owners of Adelante Farms, talked about the Barbees’ request to close about 1,710 feet of East Grand Plains Road from west of the Hagerman Canal to Oasis Road.

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“I don’t think we are changing Mr. Jennings rights at all, other than a point of access on our property,” said Ken Barbee.

Jennings said he was representing his family in objecting to closure without an agreement guaranteeing his family continued access to the road, which he said his family uses to get to the Pecos River.

“We would like an easement to our property,” he said. “We think we have that now, as probably the longest person in the area. Our family has owned that property near the river since the 1940s, in the ‘40s.”

Jennings added that he feels his family has been good neighbors and has done its part to maintain the roads during the past decades. He said a lack of access would make it difficult to sell the property should the family ever decide to do that.

Jennings originally made his remarks about another closure request made by Adelante Farms for a portion of Woodbine Way from the canal to Oasis Road, but commissioners pointed out that the request that affects Jennings’ access is the application pertaining to East Grand Plains Road.

The Barbees provided a written proposal to Jennings about access should a closure occur, and Ken Barbee told commissioners that the suggested agreement does have some conditions, including speed limits and restrictions on activities if Adelante Farms is working cattle. Jennings also said his lawyers had written up an easement agreement. But the parties have not resolved their differences yet.

Barbee also told commissioners said that he and his family members have not decided whether they would install a secured gate on the property if a closure is granted, but indicated that Jennings would be provided with keys or combinations for locks if that happens.

Stan Riggs, former county manager who still serves as county attorney as needed, advised the commissioners that they cannot require an easement and that the county will have no say or interest in the matter at all if they vote to close the road.

Will Cavin, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said that he hopes an agreement will be reached before the board votes in May.

“I hope that between now and then, the parties can come to a good, sound agreement to make our job easier on making a decision on whether or not to vacate that road,” he said.

On April 20, the commissioners plan to visit all 13 roads still being considered for changes. The tour will begin at the Chaves County Administrative Center at 8 a.m. Members of the public can participate, although they have to provide their own transportation. The commissioners have authority to make their decisions immediately after viewing the roads, but they have indicated their intentions to vote during their May meeting.

Of the 13 road applications being considered, four are for status changes, two are for the county to adopt roads and seven are for road closures.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.