BELPRE - Belpre City Council Monday decided to take the next step in the possible closure of a portion of an alley residents have complained about for months.
Residents near an area of Dana Road off of Lee Street have been coming to council since last September asking for action to be taken as they are concerned about the roadway.
For months people who live on or near Dana Road have been asking for a portion or all of it to be vacated by the city.
"The real issue, it seems to me, is ultimately, if the folks who have been here with the access to their property through the street don't want the roadway vacated," said city law director Tom Webster. "The people who have complained about vacation will complain about not being able to use the land."
If the city vacates the roadway, the property will be evenly split among the abutting land owners and the owners of property on either side are awarded the roadway property and what was once public is now private.
The committee decided to have city safety-service director Dave Ferguson get estimates on the cost of surveying an unpaved area of Dana Road.
"I imagine it will be close to $2,500," said Councilwoman Susan Abdella, who has recently had some personal property surveyed. "If the city is going to repave it or vacate it, we need to know where the road is."
If the city has the roadway surveyed, the cost will come out of the city streets fund.
Webster said council needs to decide what to vacate and how much of the roadway to vacate.
"The city can close part of it, all of it, or just a section," he said. "If you do nothing, you will hear grief from people living on the east end who want you to maintain it. If you don't vacate it, you will get grief from people complaining about mud from the west end of the street.
"There is nothing that says whatever approach you take, someone will not file suit against you," Webster said.
During discussions of the Dana Road issue in February, Councilmen Eric Sinnett, Debbie Marshall and Larry Martin approved by voice vote for the city to vacate from the blacktop of the roadway to Stone Road.
In other business
Council members heard concerns of citizens during a board of zoning appeals hearing on variance requests on four properties in the city.
The largest number of complaints came about in a request by 4 Fifth St. owner Andrew Hughes to have a variance to build a 20-foot-tall garage where zoning has a restriction of 15 feet.
"He does not live in that home, he lives in the Dayton, area, and we (neighbors) do not believe his plans are the best for the neighborhood," one area resident said.
Neighbor Judy Davidson said Hughes' addition of a fence has hurt the value of her property and she is opposed to a new garage.
"I honor historic homes and I object to how he has ruined the site by what he has already done," she said. "I do not think it is appropriate to put a building of that type on historic property."
A second request for the city to relinquish an 80-foot alleyway on the north side of the 100 block of Fifth Street behind Belpre Furniture was not contested.
During the discussion, Ferguson said the public hearing was not a debate, but a gathering of comments.
"Because these are all variances, the board of zoning appeals has the final say on these and the issues will not come to council," said city associate law director Jim McCauley.