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Old logging road not an easy change

Richard D. L. Fulton

(8/10) Altering the path of a section of an old logging road in Hamiltonban Township might not be as easy of an accomplishment as its proponents might have thought.

The logging road, established decades ago, is now known by the name of Five Forks Lane, and serves as a functional byway for a number of township residents. The lane is approximately two miles in length, according to the township.

The lane is privately owned with its route presumably defined by restrictions placed within the context of the deeds attached to the various properties involved.

According to the township’s classification of private roads, Five Forks Lane, located off Iron Springs Road, serves as access for seven homes in the area.

The change was reportedly prompted by the owner of a tract of land through which the lane passes who is seeking to sell the property.

However, a prospective buyer wants to build a home on that land where the lane crosses the tract, which would necessitate relocating that section of roadway in order to accomplish it.

Realtor Elva Benjamin, representing the land owner, Diane Munck, appeared before the township Board of Supervisors at their August 7 meeting to determine the process that would have to be followed in order to realign the road.

Benjamin posed the simple question, "Can that (private) route be modified within a certain person’s boundaries?"

The answer was not so simple.

Township Solicitor Matthew Battersby stated, "We didn’t have subdivision plans (regulations) prior to the 1970s," which means the old logging road would not have been regulated as such.

"Mountain roads and logging roads were put in and everyone started using them as common roads," he said.

While there were no regulations governing such lanes prior to 1970s, the board felt that any section realigned would be regulated by current road construction requirements, essentially treating the relocated portion as "a new road."

The board felt that the proponents of the change meet with the planning commission in order to determine the process, especially since the township engineer would be on-hand at the planning meetings.

Battersby also suggested stated that the deeds and/or titles to the land should provide information relating to status of the lane and that changing deed restrictions, which might be required, should also be addressed by a title attorney.

As a result, the board of supervisors took no formal action on the issue.

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