Courtesy Jonathan Copsey / Appen Newspapers
September 20, 2010
MILTON – Before last year's election, there was a lot of talk about the desire of many Crooked Creek subdivision residents to make their road a private drive. That would allow them the option of gating it from those who would use the residential street as a short-cut between Ga. 9 and Francis Road.
As a public road, however, state law only allows abandonment of roads not in use. Given the level of traffic cutting through the subdivision, that was certainly not the case.
Now, Crooked Creek may get its way after all. The change comes after the state Legislature changed the procedure for abandonment of public roads to include roads that "do not serve the public interest."
"The law has been changed and changed in a significant way," said city attorney Ken Jarrard at a recent council work session.
Milton also requires there be 100 percent approval from affected residents. Now the City Council is thinking of easing the "100 percent" rule to something more obtainable.
With the change in state law, a city can abandon roads – and thereby privatize them – as it sees fit and with whatever percentage of affected residents' approval it likes. However, Jarrard pointed out that the percentage cannot be decided on the fly. It would have to be a city-wide standard. For instance, if the council decides 70 percent resident approval is fine, all road abandonment issues in the city will be resolved with 70 percent. That is if the city first agrees abandonment of a road is in the public interest.
The 640 homeowners of Crooked Creek have had the problem of Creek Club Drive, the main road through the subdivision, used as a shortcut for years. The residents pushed for abandonment so they could install gates at the entrances, stopping the traffic.
"Safety is the number one concern, but there's also the security benefit," said Councilmember Joe Longoria, who lives in the subdivision and campaigned heavily to privatize the road. "I know [crime] would go down if it were gated."
Should the roads in Crooked Creek become privatized and gated, Longoria argues that not only would the crime be reduced, the city would no longer be responsible for the upkeep of the 6.5 miles of roadway within the neighborhood.
"That's found resources we could focus in other areas of the city," he said.