June 28, 2022

County reviews Class C road policy

Although Union County road crews eventually removed trees on two Class C roads, officials will review its Class C policy and consider changes.

After the June 7 storm that caused tree damage in Union County, one landowner told the Union County Board of Supervisors the county’s road crew declined to remove fallen trees on two Class C Roads. Class C roads are dirt surface and receive minimal, annual maintenance mainly because of the very low traffic count. The county’s policy states adjacent landowners are responsible for removing debris along the road.

Although Union County crews removed the fallen trees, the instance gave a chance for the county to review its strategy.

Clarke County Engineer Christian Boehmer, who is assisting Union County’s secondary roads department, provided a copy of Clarke’s Class C rule. Boehmer said Clarke County only allows access on Class C roads to the county, adjacent landowners and those who farm in the area and for emergency services and utility work.

“The person or people who petition to have a level C created they are responsible for gates, maintenance and costs up front,” he said. It is common for farmers to have a locked gate on their property.

“We have access to a key in case a utility company can’t find somebody or law enforcement or we need to get down there for work,” Boehmer said.

Union County Roads Superintendent Al Hysell was in favor of that including having a key for the gates.

“It’d be a good thing to have in writing the county always has ability for that. If we can’t get in and don’t have a key, we have every right to cut it to get access,” Boehmer said.

Boehmer said the supervisors do have the right to vacate a road but if a landowners would become landlocked, landowners can appeal.

Clarke County has a petition to propose a level C road. Boehmer said Clarke County creates a level C road only with complete support of landowners.

“If there is one person, it kicks it out,” Hysell said about sentiments in Union County.

Supervisor Ron Riley said Union County has a strategy for class C roads, but he and Hysell agreed it was “bland” as minimal maintenance is not specifically defined. Hysell said maintenance is at the discretion of the engineer’s office and supervisors.

“I know it’s ambiguous, but still,” Riley said about the county’s ruling.

Supervisor Rick Friday said if emergency services is needed along a Class C Road but a fallen tree is in the way, “How are you going to get emergency services.”

Hysell said one of the fallen trees was so large it needed heavy equipment to be moved.

“What if we wanted to blade the road we still got to deal with the tree,” Hysell said.

Boehmer said roads with limited services also have limited liability for the county.

“Once I know about it, I feel obligated, no matter where the tree is at, for us to do something with it,” Hysell said.

Supervisors and Hysell agreed to review Clarke’s Class C ordinance. No action was taken.

In other supervisor news:

Approval was given to purchase a Takeuchi skid loader from Star Equipment in Des Moines. The $83,764 bid included three attachments. The county received a $40,000 grant to assist with the purchase.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.