Masks were required for the first time at the Union County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday at the Union County Courthouse. During their June 30 meeting, the supervisors decided to require masks in the courthouse beginning July 6 in order to create one rule for the building after the state court declared masks will need to be worn in the court, which will resume July 13. They had also noted concerns about a possible rise in cases if social distancing guidelines were not followed over the July 4th weekend.
Supervisor Ron Riley said he had received three complaints about the requirement violating civil liberties. Supervisor Dennis Brown received one complaint.
The supervisors unanimously denied a request to vacate a section of Iris Avenue north of 240th Street after a miscommunication was revealed.
Union County Engineer Zach Gunsolley took responsibility for the misunderstanding.
Craig Hoffman had requested the section of road that dead ends into land he owns to be vacated by the county, however, in communications with nearby landowners, Gunsolley had used the word “closed.” To Gunsolley, the two words mean the same thing — the county would no longer have ownership or maintenance requirements on the road.
“When we say ‘closure’ that means ‘vacating,’ which means completely wiping the county right of way,” Gunsolley said.
The landowners understood “closed” as the road becoming a level C road with gates.
Level C roads leave the county with too much liability, Gunsolley said. They receive only minimal maintenance, and, although there would be gates, they are sometimes left open by landowners who have access. Once the gates are opened, an unsuspecting motorist might use the road thinking it was maintained, he said.
“A level C with gates is still a public road but with very minimum maintenance,” Gunsolley said.
Gunsolley recommended the board deny the request, keeping the section of road at level B with a low water crossing.
Once everyone understood the plan was to vacate the road, the landowners did not want it to happen.
Mark Ide, Murray Shade and Dale Cline attended the public hearing. Ide spoke against the vacation.
“The three of us involved all thought we was getting gates and a padlock,” he said. “I’ve got an 80 ... if you close the road, I’ve got no way to get there short of going through somebody else.”
Gunsolley had spoken with Hoffman and reported that Hoffman was OK with keeping the road open.
In other county business:
• the supervisors received a written request from Duane Wittstock not to spray weeds near his organic farming operation. Mechanical methods of weed control will be used if necessary.
• Federal Emergency Management Agency officials approve a $55,000 estimate for repair on a bridge on Joshua Avenue after Gunsolley insisted the bridge could not be safely repaired for the low estimate FEMA had previously given of $14,000, which is under the cut off for a payment.
• the supervisors renewed the management agreement and lease with the CARE facility in Afton.
• a closed session was held to discuss legal strategy regarding the location and construction of wind turbines and related structures in Union County. No action can be be taken in a closed session. A public discussion will be held during the next supervisor meeting July 13.
The Union County Board of Supervisors meets weekly 9 a.m. Monday at the Union County Courthouse, 300 N. Pine St. The supervisors are still meeting in person at this time, but the public is encouraged to submit comments for public forum by mail, email or telephone to help limit the gathering to ten participants.