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County considering vacating road to Lockheed Martin

The county is considering a petition by Lockheed Martin to vacate 2.6 miles of County Road 7717 that runs solely through the Lockheed property.

The commission fielded the petition at their most recent commission meeting and county attorney Allen Jones said he and county engineer Russell Oliver have begun due diligence o the request.

“There’s a statutory procedure governing the vacation of roads,” Jones said. “The first step is for the filing of a petition, which Lockheed has done. A petition comes to the county and the county engineer and I must then conduct due diligence, which is where we’re at right now. “We will research all relevant issues relating to the petition including identifying all abutting landowners, giving notice to the proper parties entitled to receive notice and, ultimately, the commission will conduct a public hearing on the petition.”

Jones said the due diligence process could take up to two months and then the public hearing must be advertised for 30 days in the local newspaper before it can be held, creating a three-month projected timeline for the county to hold the hearing.

Oliver said that this stretch of county road is only abutting Lockheed Martin property. However, residents living in nearby homes and people that own property in the area could be opposed to vacating the road as it could cut off a quicker route of travel.

Commissioner Homer Wright, District 1, represents the residents in that area and said he will be going door to door to get feedback from constituents about whether they consent to vacating the road.

“So far, I haven’t reached out to anybody and the only people that have called me are firefighters with the Meeksville Fire Department,” Wright said. “They’re concerned about it because that’s their shortcut to Needmore. It could save them 10-15 minutes to use that part of the road”

Wright said he would not move forward with the process until he is able to speak with constituents and gauge their feelings about the process.

Oliver said that if the county vacates the road, Lockheed Martin would most likely be quitclaimed the deed and could do what they wish with the road.

“Once the process has been completed the right-of-way of the roadway is no longer county property,” Oliver said. “The road would simply become Lockheed Martin property.”

If the road were vacated, the county would also no longer be responsible for maintaining the road.

Jones said it’s important to let citizens know this is coming up and that they will have a chance to voice their opinion on the move.

“One of the conditions in the statute requires the county to take into consideration when determining whether to vacate a road is whether there is reasonable and convenient means of ingress and egress for landowners in the area and how they may be affected,” Jones said. “For some landowners it may be significant and for others it may cause a minor inconvenience, but you don’t know until the people tell you.”

“Individuals with opposition will be able to voice that at a public hearing that the commission will hold,” Oliver said. “That’s part of the process.”