County commissioners are taking a step toward adopting a portion of Squaw Creek Road, after voting 4-1 on Monday to ask staff to work on acquiring easements for the road.
Adoption of the road would mean the county would take over its maintenance, including plowing and dust control.
People who live off the road say that right now, there’s no authority that takes responsibility for it.
“There is no governing body,” resident Diana Osuna said. “It’s just us residents acting collectively, saying, ‘Hey, can you help us out?’ If someone elects not to help us out then we’re just on our own, pitching in more money to fix this road. There is no governance over this section of road, and yet there is the potential for a large amount of development to continue.”
Residents in the Game Creek area south of Jackson have asked the county to adopt the 0.8-mile stretch of road for years. In 2016, 41 residents filed a petition asking the county to adopt Squaw Creek Road, and commissioners appointed a third party to explore the possibility. That third party, Andy Cornish, reported to the board that “proceeding to adopt the proposed section ... would be a logical and well-supported decision.” In June 2017, county commissioners approved a survey of the road for $15,000.
Currently, the road serves 80 homes and eight accessory residential units, with the development potential for 17 more homes and 89 more ARUs. According to a staff report, Squaw Creek residents spent $313,009 on road maintenance from 1983 to 2014 and $85,815 from 2015-19.
Resident Sandy Shuptrine said the number of citizens served by the stretch of road is comparable to the number of people in downtown Wilson.
“We have a segment of road that has no official authority or oversight,” she said. “We have a hill somebody needs to be responsible for.”
Shuptrine added that because the county authorized substantial development in the rural area, it should take responsibility for the impacts to the road.
“We want the county to be responsible for that section of road because the county had a big hand in creating the problem,” she said.
Attempts at creating a road improvement service district have failed.
Game Creek Road is owned by the county from Highway 89/191 to the bottom of the hill that rises to the residential area, where it becomes Squaw Creek Road. As the road cuts back and rises sharply, the first 3,100 feet are paved and the following 1,900 feet are dirt, and both stretches are privately owned.
Other roads that branch off Squaw Creek, such as Limber Pine Road and Porcupine Road, would remain under the residents’ private control.
Eight easements are required to adopt the road, a staff report said. County legal staff will next work with landowners on securing donated easements.
Commissioner Mark Newcomb was the only vote against the step. Saying he expects county revenues to flatline in the future, he cautioned against taking on new road responsibilities.