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City-county road maintenance agreement could be in making

POSTED: September 3, 2013 12:36 a.m.

Hall County’s city and county governments have started talking about coordinating joint road maintenance efforts.

“People don’t really care if you’re in the city or in the county — they want to see the road maintained,” Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown said. “They want to see the grass cut, litter picked up, etc.”

Joint Municipal Association members have met with Hall officials on the possible plan, he said.

The plan is “to put together a work group” that would include input from the Gainesville-Hall County Geographic Information System program and “see if there are logical areas where we might do some trade-offs,” Brown said.

For example, a city could take over maintenance of a road that travels in and out of city limits and the county take over maintenance of a city-only street.

“We’re going to have to look at maintenance standards ... but I think it’s a good thing for us to work together and cooperate on,” Brown said. “I think the driving public expects that of us.”

He added, “I think we’re far away from having an agreement, but we ... and the county are open to discussions.”

The issue came out of the Joint Municipal Association’s infrastructure committee, Brown said.

“We’re going to try to come up with a map that we can say maybe the county will repair the potholes and the city will mow the shoulders, or something like that,” said Ken Rearden, Hall County’s public works and utilities director. “We really haven’t gone any (further) than the concept.”

Offhand, a joint agreement might work, Rearden said.

“If (a city) has a mower they can turn around at the city limits and it’s only a thousand feet to the other side of the city limits, why send us out there to mow a thousand feet?”

Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said he’s concerned about Hall County’s overall workload in light of a joint agreement.

“The problem the county has is if they tried to concentrate their resources around areas like Hog Mountain Road and Thurmon Tanner Parkway, they could only do it if they just stopped mowing in other areas,” Andrew said. “And if they just stopped mowing other areas completely, those people will complain.”

Each of the governments has public works crews that cover mostly local roads, although Flowery Branch, for example, mows a stretch along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway, a main entryway to the city.

“If we didn’t mow Atlanta Highway at all, we’d have people in an uproar about it,” Andrew said.

The issue of road maintenance has been tense at times.

Last year, after the Hall County Board of Commissioners rejected Oakwood’s annexation proposal to reach Lake Lanier through a series of key West Hall roads, Oakwood put up signs at the city limits indicating where county maintenance begins and ends.

“There’s a bona fide need here of these roads being properly maintained,” Brown said after the meeting. “I am no longer going to mow county right of ways and we definitely (will) not be paving any more county right of ways, even if it makes logical sense.”

Speaking last week on that issue, Brown said the signs are still there “because we want to make sure that we focus our efforts on roads in our city limits as opposed to spending city tax dollars on roads that are outside our jurisdiction.

“Just out of logic, a lot of times it makes sense to go ahead and mow a section, but we don’t need to do that at the expense of not being able to keep up our city streets,” he said.


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