Commissioners to reconsider road holidays – Bonn County Daily Bee | CarTailz


SPIRIT LAKE — Neighbors on Spirit Lake’s Hidden Valley Road are seeking street leave for a public right of way, citing concerns about harassment, trespassing and other crime.

The street leave petition (VS0001-22) was first heard on October 26, but due to a lack of comment from the Idaho Department of Lands, whose property touches the dedicated street, the commissioners decided to continue the meeting through November 9.

The road that residents applied to the county to take over in 1915 was not maintained by the county, residents allege in their application to leave more than a half-mile of the road. The last thousand feet or so never appear to have been serviced and is more of a “tow track,” said one of the neighbors, Bill Hertzberg.

Daniel Strauss, a Spirit Valley LLC representative who was attempting to clear the road above his property, hired Whiskey Rock Planning and Consulting to file on his behalf. Strauss and his neighbors said traffic on the street had increased sharply as areas to the south experienced increasing “urbanization”.

Due to population growth and the popularity of SUVs, Hidden Valley Road residents have endured “frequent trespassing, loitering, vandalism and the dumping of trash on their property,” according to the bid narrative. Local residents say they have been verbally attacked and threatened by intruders.

Strauss, speaking at the first meeting in October, said non-residents often use Hidden Valley Road to get to Zenith Road, a private right-of-way. A few years ago, Strauss said he worked with the IDL and installed a gate in 2015 to deter trespassing and timber theft. The gate was destroyed and then stolen. There was even a death on his property a few years ago, he said.

Hertzberg, who has lived on Hidden Valley Road for 30 years, said he owns 130 acres in the area. Not only does he and his family bring a garbage bag to pick up the trash, every time they go out, items are dumped all over the area. Among those items are a dozen car batteries and about 30 tires that were dumped in a creek upstream of his property.

But what was most alarming was a series of incidents, including his office window being smashed and some of his belongings stolen, which forced him to make several phone calls to law enforcement.

“Police thought someone was trying to grow marijuana in the hills behind my house. We never got to the bottom of it,” Hertzberg said.

In their request, neighbors in the area said the situation had “become unbearable,” and all agree that removing the right-of-way and installing a gate under their property “will bring them relief,” the request narrative said.

However, the county’s Roads and Bridges Department disagreed, saying a road leave wasn’t the right move.

“All traffic that the applicants describe as nuisance currently has legal public road access to this public land, and eliminating that access would not be in the public interest,” department officials said.

Department of Planning officials agreed with Road and Bridge’s assessment that while this traffic is inconvenient, it has a legal right to be on Hidden Valley Road.

Neighbors said the Idaho code allows a public road to be left on leave if it is abandoned, has not been maintained for at least three of the past 15 years, or if keeping the road “for public use is not in the public interest.”

However, the Idaho Code prohibits leaving a road when a right-of-way is the only means of accessing federal or state lands.

Whiskey Jack’s Jeremy Grimm said the lane qualified for leave because reducing the need for police involvement in the area was in the public interest. Grimm also presented an IDL map showing how Hidden Valley Road ends near their proposed vacation spot. He also said an IDL map shows 2550 US Forest Road as the gateway to IDL land.

If the leave is approved, Grimm says the neighbors will institute a 60-foot radius turn about 2.5 miles from FSR 2550.

“The bottom line is that the public is not using Hidden Valley Road to access state land west of Mr. Thompson’s property. They use it to go on Zenith and Glad [two private roads] Trespassing,” said Strauss.

However, Commissioner Jeff Connolly was concerned about IDL’s lack of involvement as they would be affected landowners.

“My biggest question is, have you approached IDL because it sounds like they’ve said in the past, ‘We don’t want that access anyway.’ That absolutely would have made this thing roar,” said Commissioner Connolly.

“If IDL had put a letter on file saying, ‘We have no interest in this access,’ I would have been let’s go.”

Grimm said if this was a sticking point for the commissioners then he needed a continuation of the hearing to receive such a letter from IDL.

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