JASPER, Tenn. — Marion County leaders are planning to give up control of parts of two county roads at the request of nearby property owners.
Somehow, Parker Trail Road — a one-tenth of a mile "driveway" off Shellmound Road — was added to the county's road list in the 1980s.
"I researched all the records in the county registrar's office and never found evidence of any conveyance to the county for this little road," County Attorney Billy Gouger said.
There are no minutes from any board meeting indicating it was approved on the county's road list either, he said, and the surrounding landowners asked in November for the designation to be removed.
County leaders planned originally to abandon the road, but since another landowner has property alongside it, that could cause a problem.
By law, if Marion abandons a county road, ownership goes to the adjoining property owners.
"You're going to give half of that road to a property owner that's never owned it," Gouger said.
The county's best option, he said, would be a quit-claim deed made back to the property owners who made the original appeal.
"I think that would be the request of the property owners, and I think that would be the best thing for the county going forward," Gouger said.
The Marion County Commission voted unanimously to do so at its January meeting.
The board also voted to abandon part of Anderson Ridge Road on local residents' request.
"The best thing about closing this road [is] it's going to alleviate a dump problem we have off the side of that ridge up there," County Mayor David Jackson said. "It's terrible."
He said the area is "pretty desolate," and there is rarely any traffic along the road.
County Road Superintendent Neal Webb agreed abandoning that part of the road would be a blessing for his workers.
"We've had a problem with [people] actually making meth on the side of that road," he said. "There's also been a dead body dumped out there."
Webb said some county workers unknowingly cleaned up discarded meth lab components without realizing they were handling potentially hazardous materials.
"I don't know how many times the crews have been out there trying to clean that mess up," Jackson said. "It's really dangerous because [the trash] goes all the way to the bottom of the ravine. I think it would be a big benefit, housekeeping-wise, for the county to close that road."
Gouger said the county must give notice of its intentions to the affected property owners and hold a public hearing before the board can hold a final vote.
"Even though [the property owners] are all apparently in consent or agreement to do that, we have to follow that procedural requirement," he said.
The public hearing and final vote on abandoning that portion of Anderson Ridge Road is scheduled for Feb. 22.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.