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Marion County Mayor David Jackson

JASPER, Tenn. — After complaints by property owners in two areas of Marion County, officials are moving to abandon one road while starting the process to accept another onto the county's road list.

The Marion County Commission voted unanimously last week to start procedures for abandoning Parker Trail Road.

County Mayor David Jackson said the county took over the road sometime in the 1980s, but most of the surrounding owners want that designation removed.

The road is only one-tenth of a mile long, Road Superintendent Neal Webb said, and no one knows why it is on the list at all.

"The highway department has no deed," he said. "We have no paperwork that I've been able to find."

Six people who co-own property surrounding the dead-end road didn't know it was a county road either.

"All six of us want it back private like it's supposed to be," one of the owners told the board. "It's been private for over 100 years, and how it wound up on the county [list], I don't know. We do know we want it back."

County Attorney Billy Gouger said that "out of an abundance of caution," the board should follow the procedures for abandoning Parker Trail Road precisely.

A third party who has property touching the road will have to be notified, Gouger said, and will have the opportunity to come before the board and fight the action.

"[The board] can still do with it as you choose," Gouger said. "It's your road. You can abandon it if you want to over somebody's objections, but they are entitled to notice because it does affect their property."

Elsewhere in the county, Linda Rozar has been on a quest for more than a year to get the county to repair privately owned parts of Hargiss Cove Road and a bridge leading to an old cemetery there.

Rozar told board members that former county mayor and road superintendent John Graham told her the county built the bridge long ago. When a firetruck damaged the bridge many years ago, she said, the county repaired it.

"We're just sitting here waiting for you all to do the right thing," Rozar told the board.

Webb said in the 1960s and 1970s, counties could repair private roads, especially those leading to cemeteries, but "the state has changed all of these laws."

He said state officials told him "not to touch it." The only legal way is for the county to take over the road and bridge. Every property owner along that road would have to agree to that.

Webb said he will visit the area soon with the paperwork necessary to start the process of adopting the road and bridge.

There is no guarantee, however, the County Commission would vote to accept it to the county road list.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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