Plan to vacate road draws fire from family members

What started as a simple public hearing to vacate a half-mile road and bridge led to a family disagreement for the Washington County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.

During the regular meeting, Ken Keany, joint owner of the property on 240th Street in Franklin Township the dead end road leads to, objected to vacating the roadway, arguing it would limit access to the property and lower the property value. He argued that the other access road to the land included a culvert that had collapsed. His brother Duane Keany, the other joint owner of the land, and nephew Greg Keany, had requested the county vacate the road. Ken said Tuesday was the first he had heard of a negotiation with the county to vacate the road.

“It’s been in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) for 29 years and before that Barry Sheetz and his son Brad farmed it,” Ken said. He also identified both himself and his brother as the active caretakers.

County engineer Jacob Thorius said the road had basically been closed for over 20 years. He said there had been a bridge that had been closed about 25 years ago and maintenance on the road had dropped because there is nothing on the roadway. He said “some of the landowners” had approached him about vacating the road. He said the county never had any intent to replace the bridge. Thorius also said that to prepare for the public hearing a notification was sent to the address of the property owner of record, which is Duane Keany.

“No one lives on the road and there is no reason for police, fire or sheriff to go that way,” Duane said. “On paper it is 50-50 but I’m trying to buy him out.”

Greg said there has been a problem with trespassing along the roadway and he feels if the county vacates the road it would stop the trespassing.

The supervisors discussed making the road a Class C (local access only) road, and asked the owners to discuss the issue. A Class C roadway can be gated off. County Attorney John Gish reminded the supervisors that if the road were made into a Class C roadway the county would still have liability for the road and would still be required to do upkeep on it.

No action was listed on the agenda other than the public hearing. Thorius said the issue would be brought back to the supervisors in a few weeks.