The pavement and stripes of Sealey Road in Jefferson may be black and white, but determining ownership of the road is more of a gray area.
In October, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted to rename McClure Industrial Drive to Sealey Road. Renaming a road may seem cut and dried, but the Jefferson City Council says the county didn’t have the authority to do so because it is city property.
The confusion surrounding who owns the road dates back to January 1996, when Patillo Construction Company requested that the county relinquish any rights to the then-dirt road that divided the company’s 469-acre parcel of property so that the road could be closed.
Patillo’s property belonged to the city, but the county owned the road. On April 8, 1997, the county voted to close the road, with the understanding that Patillo would name a new thoroughfare as Sealey Road, once the company was done developing the property between Hog Mountain Road and Jett Roberts Road.
During the development process, Patillo named a portion of Hog Mountain Road as Sealey Road on site plans submitted to the city. Upon completion of the project, the company dedicated the road to the city, giving Jefferson officials maintenance and final naming jurisdiction.
In January 2005, the city council voted to change the road’s name to McClure Industrial Drive.
Three years later, in October 2008, the Jackson County commission voted to change the name of McClure to Sealey Road and installed street signs proclaiming the new street name.
No notice was given to city officials or to the businesses located on McClure about the impending name change, which city officials say has confused delivery truck drivers trying to reach businesses in industrial parks on the former McClure.
County officials cite House Bill 489 as the governing document that gave it the authority to rename the road without notifying the city.
House Bill 489, also known as the Service Delivery Strategy, gives the county the power to maintain certain city roads. The agreement was signed by both city and county officials in 2006 and lists Hog Mountain Road as one of the city roads under county control.
Another confusing factor is that the name for the portion of Hog Mountain Road in question, Sealey Road, was changed to McClure Industrial Drive a year before the service strategy was signed. That raises the question of whether the road still was officially part of Hog Mountain Road and thus fell under jurisdiction of the 2006 agreement.
"The authority of the county commission to name or rename (McClure Industrial Road) is a matter under consideration," Jackson County Manager Darrell Hampton said.
"The county is researching the matter so they can determine how to proceed."
The original Sealey Road was named after a Jackson County family.
"It was named Sealey Road in the early 1940s because Sealeys were the only ones who lived on it then," said Donnell Sealey, whose family owned acres of property on the road.
Although the matter is being sorted out by city and county officials, Sealey says he is looking forward to the issue being resolved, with his family’s legacy still in place.
"I promised my mama on her death bed that I would see to it that my father’s name lived on," he said. "And I plan to do just that."