Fairfield County Council nixes plans to end driveway maintenance

WINNSBORO – After a citizen addressed the hardships an amended ordinance would impose on many of the county’s residents, Fairfield County Council members did not advance second reading of the ordinance during Monday night’s meeting.

Ordinance 814, an Ordinance to Amend and Restate Ordinance 674 Roads, Highways and Bridges (which had earlier amended Ordinance 616) was proposed by council for the purpose of ending county maintenance of shared residential driveways, some dirt roads, emergency maintenance of county roads and other county road, highway and bridge maintenance that has been, for at least 20 years, provided by the county at no charge to the county’s citizens.

Joe Wilkes, a resident of District 2, voiced his concern that shifting the burden of county maintenance of these roads, shared driveways, highways and bridges to the residents would be costly for residents and lead to neglected maintenance of shared driveways and dirt roads.

“This is going to create a vast hardship on a lot of people in Fairfield,” stated Wilkes. “We have a tremendous amount of dirt roads. I happen to live on one myself, and we rely on these roads to be in shape,” Wilkes said. “There are a lot of people in the rural areas on fixed incomes and [they] will not be able to take care of these roads themselves.”

Wilkes also noted first responders and postal workers must also traverse dirt roads. He said the proposed ordinance, if passed, would make their jobs more difficult.

At their April meeting, council laid the groundwork for Ordinance 814 by approving first reading without allowing discussion. The proposed ordinance removed several key sections from existing road and shared driveway maintenance.

One county official told The Voice he estimated there are hundreds of shared driveways in the county and that some are very long driveways shared by numerous homes. One of those, he said, is about five miles long and is shared by about 18 homes.

Because no council member made a motion to approve second reading Monday night, the ordinance died, said Tommy Morgan, county attorney.

Had council passed ordinance 814, it would have deleted a number of sections covering maintenance of unpaved roads, prevented the county from giving away and delivering surplus dirt to residents, emergency maintenance of roads and more. See the complete proposed amendments on The Voice’s website: blythewoodonline.com.

Wilkes said Fairfield has been handling dirt road maintenance for decades and he didn’t understand why the council was considering reversing that now.

“There are a lot of people in the rural areas on fixed incomes. They cannot take care of these roads themselves,” he said. “I don’t really see the need to stop now. I felt like I needed to question it because it would impact a tremendous amount of people in Fairfield County.”

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