Following a pair of public hearings at Tuesday night’s meeting, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners voted to declare a pair of public roads abandoned.
Garland Mountain Way and Revis Road, which have not seen any use by the public in at least 20 years according to some, were officially declared abandoned and will therefore no longer be maintained by the county. However, not all of Garland Mountain Way is affected by this abandonment. The portion of the road that runs from the intersection with Garland Mountain Trail to the end of the paved portion of Garland Mountain Way will remain open and maintained by the county. Instead, the area approved for abandonment connects the end of Collins Place to the paved portion of Garland Mountain Way.
The public hearings began with a presentation by county staff, which explained that the roads are unimproved and have locked gates on them. Neither have been used by the public in years, no substantial public purpose is served by the roads and no private property rights would be extinguished by the county declaring them abandoned. According to calculations made by the county, in order to bring both Revis Road and Garland Mountain Way up to the current county specifications (a total of 1.34 miles of road), as well as installing a new bridge on Garland Mountain Way over Salacoa Creek, it would cost the county $5.3 million.
A handful of residents from the area around Garland Mountain Way spoke out against the abandonment during the public hearing, claiming that the action could be considered a public safety issue, as keeping it open and upgrading it would make response times faster for first responders and would provide an alternate route out of the area in case of emergency. Another resident of the area said this would be a chance for the county to improve infrastructure on Garland Mountain as it plans for additional growth in the future. A third claimed the road should never have been blocked off to begin with, while the last resident to speak on the Garland Mountain Way question said he put the gate up to help keep illegal dumping in the area under control.
One resident spoke out during the Revis Road hearing, explaining that her family has owned land at the end of Revis Road for years, and is now unable to access it due to the locked gate blocking the way. Although the county approved a motion to abandon Revis Road, commissioner Ray Gunnin suggested the resident get with commissioner Steve West and see what could be done about gaining access to the land, as it appeared the gate had been installed by another private individual.
After hearing from everyone who wanted to voice their opinions, the board closed the public hearings and prepared to take action. West said he understood the concerns about it being a public safety issue, but also said that, for the amount it would cost the county to bring these roads up to county standards, the county could build a new fire station in the area. West put forward motions to declare abandonment of both roads, which were then approved unanimously by the board.