sports 3 days ago

Both Cleburne County and resident have questions about road's ownership

The Anniston Star — Bill Wilson, The Anniston Star, Ala.

May 19--MUSCADINE -- All Muscadine resident Leonard Molden and his wife, Pam, want is a clarification: Who owns the road their house is on?

They need to know, they say, so they can get on with their lives without having to worry about rainwater flooding their yard. The ditch across the road has not been maintained; it's filled with trees and the culverts are clogged.

"When it rains it's a river here," Molden said. Cleburne County 208 is an unpaved road and has a muddled history of ownership that Molden wants settled.

It all started back in 1981 when the road was first plowed. At that time the quarter-mile path was a pulping trail road, where big trucks brought out harvested timber. Only two houses were to be found on the rural, gravel road, which was considered private, according to Molden.

When another resident wanted to build a house, Molden and his neighbor gave him right-of-way permission to traverse the gravel-topped road to his residence.

In 1998 the county started grading the road and it was determined the private road would be Cleburne County 208.

"First time I saw them grading I was home, I went out there, 'What are you doing out here?'" Molden asked the grading crew.

Molden said the crew informed him it had become a county road.

For Molden, that was a good thing.

"Well, the county has taken the road, great, they can maintain it," Molden said.

Over the years, however, the grading crews only graded one side of the road and the side with the ditch was ignored and soon the culvert got clogged. The crews also have been moving the grading to one side precariously close to a drop-off.

"Trees are in the ditch now, it would take some effort to get it cleared out again and put the ditch back like it belongs so water can drain down the ditch," Molden said.

Molden said that a crew with a backhoe recently did some work on the other side, but it didn't help much. In fact, Molden said, the backhoe operator smashed his mailbox, which sat in a cluster with the other mailboxes.

He said Cleburne County Commissioner Laura Cobb, whose district includes Molden's residence, told him the county would reimburse him for his mailbox. Molden refused the money and put up a new mailbox in his yard.

"I figured they need the money to teach people how to use a backhoe. I put up my own mailbox," Molden said.

At a County Commission meeting two weeks ago, Molden addressed commissioners with his problem. The commission appointed county attorney Doug Ghee to research the issue to find out who actually owns the road.

Cobb spoke on Tuesday about the road.

"We need to find out where we stand, Ghee is tasked to investigate, we need to clarify everything before we move forward," Cobb said.

If the road is declared private that will be fine by Molden. He said he would make plans to get a crew to fix the ditch himself.

"I don't understand how they can say it is not a county road when they've done it all these years and the first time they get a complaint now all of a sudden it ain't a county road no more, that really upsets me," Molden said.

An official map of Cleburne County dated 2007 does show County Road 208 as a county road.

Staff writer and photographer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter: @BWilson_Star


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