Town billing railroad for rock

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

CHAPEL HILL - Residents of two homes fronting Chester Avenue repaired the road to keep postal service, but that was done between two meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Last month, Enos Davis asked the city for help and while he didn't go back to Town Hall as requested, Town Administrator Mike Hatten took some steps for the municipality and explained what he'd done at this month's meeting of the board.

"It's just something we did administratively," Hatten told the town board on April 12.

He'd called the CSX Railroad, telling officials there that the town would place gravel on the railroad's right of way and that the city would send the railroad a bill for the work.

A month earlier, Hatten pointed out that Chester Avenue started as nothing more than a right of way for the railroad's equipment to service trains and tracks. A name was assigned because the two homes there might have to be found by fire fighters or an ambulance crew and the enhanced 911 dispatch system required identification.

That didn't necessarily make Chester Avenue a town street, according to Hatten. But, the neighbors contend, Chester Avenue has a stop sign, a street name sign, and a sign declaring it a dead-end road, so, therefore, the town has acknowledged it as needing attention from the local government.

Davis produced an old town map with the road displayed, and a map from the Property Assessor's office. The assessor's map seems to display the road outside the railroad right of way, and it clearly shows that the house Davis has been renting for more than a decade is beyond the town line. Miller's property isn't in Chapel Hill either.

Regardless, while Hatten was waiting for Davis to visit him at Town Hall, Miller rented a Bobcat brand construction vehicle and smoothed the right of way from Davis' mailbox to his driveway.

"I had to pay over $500 to get a Bobcat," Harris said a few days before the town board met.

Tuesday afternoon, Hatten reported that gravel has been put down and graded to the residents' satisfaction late last week. CSX will get a bill for $250 to cover the work.

"That was the agreement" with the railroad, the town's administrator said.

Asked about the fact that Davis and Harris aren't living in the city, Hatten replied, some of the land their homes are on is in the town.

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