CLEWISTON -- An old topic came up during the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners' regular meeting Sept. 14, 2021 involving repairs to Phillips Road in LaBelle.
Areas of the one-mile private road – approximately 200 feet of it - are in serious disrepair, causing frustration for postal and garbage removal drivers.
“We’re having a hard time getting that done,” Chairman Mitch Wills said. “I’ve been speaking to the postmaster this week, they’re about to stop delivery of mail. Garbage is going to be going away, they just can’t get down there.”
Wills said if the postal service installs mailboxes along SR 80 for Phillips Road residents, it will never return to the present curbside delivery, meaning the 57 property owners there will be picking up their mail on the side of the road on Highway 80.
Emergency medical and fire services won’t be able to access the road due to its condition, further creating a need for action.
“We can’t go until next year to fix this road,” Wills said. “We just can’t.”
Most residents along the road are willing to allow repairs, according to a mailing sent out by the Public Works Department, but not the 51% required to move forward.
Because the road is private, County Attorney Mark Lapp said without easements or permission by most residents, the county can create a notice of intent for homeowners there and create a MSBU ordinance by December for a public hearing in order to move forward.
Lapp said non-consensual assessments can be applied but since the county is not in the process of property assessments now, it would mean they could not be enforced for a year from the date of the assessment.
Lapp said an I.O.U. from the MSBU might be an option. In that case, monies could be borrowed from the county’s transportation tax fund for repairs and returned by the MSBU fund later.
One Phillips Road resident said he and several neighbors have been trying to manage the potholes and asked if the county would be willing to donate millage for fill as it has done in the past.
There are two potholes along the road in question, with one area in the middle needing more attention than fill.
“I can buy you six months to a year if that’s how long it takes for this MSBU to kick in,” he said.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to allow Roads and Bridges to engage in infrastructure for millings, dump trucks, etc. for an emergency temporary repair of up to $25,000, while the county attorney works on getting the MSUB in place and staff lining up the easements for possible future work and to hold public hearings.