Springfield Road boulders could lead to jail time or fines, county warns
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2009 9:27 pm
Commissioner Bill Farnham says a Springfield Road dispute over boulders is unacceptable because the boulders make the road dangerous for drivers.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (March 19, 2009) — The Pulaski County Commission had intended to adjourn early on Thursday because Commissioner Ricky Zweerink was out of town attending a Laquey basketball state competition, but an unplanned visit by Sandy and Bob Crawford regarding problems with a neighbor on Springfield Road changed those plans.
Springfield Road is located southwest of Waynesville and while it’s not the most heavily travelled road in the area, growing populations have generated growing complaints about road maintenance and drainage. The most recent complaint comes from a resident who has installed boulders on what he says is his own property, but county road workers and Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham believe the bounders are dangerous and could cause legal problems for the county if they’re on the county’s right-of-way.
The dispute has escalated to the point that deputies are involved, Farnham said.
“Life is too short for things like this,” Farnham said. “He keeps bringing up the two crashes near his property and saying that he has a handicapped child. Well, it doesn’t matter about his handicapped child. He’s making that road unsafe for anyone driving through it.”
Farnham said he’s spent many hours digging through road records and believes he can prove the boulders, other landscaping, and a fence have actually been installed on the county’s right-of-way instead of the property owner’s land.
“How can this neighbor do what they’re doing?” asked Sandy Crawford, who with her husband presented copies of state statutes which she said forbade the property owner to take such actions.
The property owner’s actions probably aren’t allowed, Farnham said, but he said he wants to prove ownership beyond a shadow of a doubt before ordering the landowner to tear out landscaping.
“I talked to the person who does the landscaping and said those boulders have to go, they’re in the right-of-way, and we can’t have them there because if somebody got in a crash and we know about it, we’d be in trouble,” Farnham said.
Attempts to get the property owner to agree met with strong resistance, Farnham said, even with Capt. Bill Anderson of the sheriff’s department accompanied the road workers, Farnham, and road supervisor Stan Crismon on a visit.
“I’m surprised Billy Anderson didn’t arrest the individual from the kind of comments he made,” Farnham said. “We got down to the neighbor’s house and he was so fired up. I proceeded to tell that gentleman that what he had done on the county right-of-way was dangerous … He started in on me and got about that close to Billy’s nose, and then Stan is a pretty big guy and couldn’t believe what was coming out of this guys mouth.”
Anderson kept his temper, Farnham said, and will be taking to Prosecuting Attorney Deborah Hooper before acting.
“I guess even the landscaping crew started giving him a hard time, so he collected all those identifications and two of them came back as violent,” Farnham said. “What I’m afraid is going to happen is if I have to go down there with my crew, I;’m going to have to have a police escort … I want to be able to hand that man a deed so there will be no dispute about the evidence whatsoever.”
Failure to remove the boulders from the right-of-way could lead to a $200 fine and six months in jail, Farnham said.
After reviewing the applicable statutes, Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall said Farnham appears to be within his rights once it’s verified that the land is part of the road right-of-way.
“You’ve made your verbal notice, you need to put it in writing, and then you can start charging him in writing after the tenth day,” Ransdall said.
Farnham said he’s prepared to take stiff action to get rid of the potentially dangerous boulders once he’s completed his research in the files of Circuit Clerk Rachelle Beasley, who is also the county’s recorder of deeds.
“I told the lady (who does landscaping) that if (the property owner) didn’t move them, I will come move them,” Farnham said. “I spent 45 minutes upstairs with the circuit clerk and recorder of deeds… Rachelle and I tried going through a bunch of the old deeds to see what the width of that road was supposed to be.”