By Fred Woods

Peter Byrd, 80 Lee Road 106 (Green Chapel Road), once more came before the Lee County Commission to ask that Lee County Access Policy, as he reads it,  be followed and that East Lake Subdivision’s access to Lee Road 146 (Moore’s Mill Road) via Green Chapel Road be closed unless or until the Green Chapel/ Moore’s Mill intersection safety issues are resolved.
Green Chapel Road is a narrow lane, barely 18 feet wide, too narrow to have a painted center line. It basically serves as an access road for the Green Chapel Missionary Baptist Church and two houses owned by Mr. Byrd. Under today’s Lee County Highway Department Guidelines it would not be eligible for acceptance into the county maintenance system. Where it intersects Moore’s Mill Road, a driver takes his life into his own hands if he turns toward Auburn because of the limited sight distance for west-bound traffic.
Notwithstanding these facts, the Lee County Highway Department allowed the developer of East Lake subdivision to connect with Green Chapel Road. In addition, the developer commissioned a traffic study showing 123 vehicles per day using the route.
According to policy, this meant the developer would be required to install a right, and possibly a left, turn lane at the intersection. Surprisingly the county engineer decided to do his own traffic study which showed only 93 vehicles per day (vpd). Since 100 vpd is the breakpoint this second traffic survey meant the developer was not required to do anything.
The county’s “Access Management Policy” states that no one can access or allow any motor vehicle onto any part of the county’s road system without applying for and receiving a permit from the county commission acting through the county engineer. The engineer, Justin Hardee, said that when the final plat for the subdivision was submitted, it became the application. Although the policy gives the engineer the right to interpret the policy this seems to stretch the meaning of “application” a bit far.
Commissioner Long, who represents the Smiths Station area, chastised Byrd for questioning Hardee’s actions. The commissioner also said he had inspected the intersection and did not find it dangerous. Mr. Long seems to have forgotten that just a couple of weeks ago we honored men and women who died to preserve our right to question the actions of our public servants. It’s called democracy.
Apparently the highway department has had second thoughts because there has been a flurry of activity at the intersection this week with the construction of make-shift turning lanes and apparently some investigation of improving the sight-distance.
The commission also discussed, and approved by a 3-1 vote reapplication for a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to build a new senior center in Beulah. Last year’s application was not awarded but District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham says he has been assured by Alabama Senior Services Commissioner Neil Morrison that the county has an “extremely good chance” of receiving the grant this year.
Last year the county’s match was $268,406, which was taken out of the budget’s road resurfacing program. Costs have increased so that an additional $95,204 is required for this year’s match. Commissioners urged that these funds be taken from the capital improvement fund so as not to further reduce the resurfacing program.
Commissioner John Andrew Harris who cast the sole “no” vote said he thought that the county had higher priority uses for the money, that taking $268,000 out of the resurfacing program was bad enough but an additional $95,000 this year was just too much.
Terry Buford was scheduled to appear again to discuss his problems with the recycling center on Highway 29 just south of Auburn but the issue was withdrawn at Commissioner Harris’ request and Buford’s concurrence. Harris said he had both parties agreement to meet and resolve the issue later this week.
In other action the commission
-approved Mr. Ham’s travel and attendance at the Governor’s Preparedness Conference and
-approved Opelika Ford as low bidder for Sheriff’s Department patrol vehicles at $26,084 each.