Greenleaf Lane residents in Brazos County continue fight for improved roads

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:46 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Residents that live along Greenleaf Lane in Brazos County are continuing their fight to get the county to fix a road that they say traps them in their homes when it rains, but Brazos County Commissioners are pushing back, saying the road is private and not a part of the county road system.

According to residents, the road has suffered damage for several years. During heavy downpours, water submerges the roadway resulting in sinkholes caused by deteriorating culverts. They say access is frequently restricted after storms until water levels recede enough to facilitate temporary repairs.

Residents say they just want safe and dependable road access for the 60+ individuals residing on Greenleaf Lane. They say the Texas Transportation Code says regardless of how a road becomes a county road, there is a process the county must follow to decommission it.

Jim Jones, a long-term resident of the Rustic Oaks community is one of many residents that went to Tuesday’s commissioner’s court meeting to express his frustration over the boundaries.

“When we moved here over 20 years ago, the county maintained this road, and then they have progressively moved the sign closer and closer and closer to the pavement so that they don’t have to maintain the gravel portion,” Jones said. “We’ve had surveyors out, surveyors have said that this portion of the road belongs to the county. Two different ones. One they hired, one we hired. And so the county owns this land. They own the land that I’m standing on right now according to the surveyors. And yet the county said that they don’t have to maintain this road.”

Greenleaf Lane resident Jim Jones
Greenleaf Lane resident Jim Jones(KBTX)

Residents say that they are not seeking preferential treatment but rather equitable treatment and adherence to the law.

They argue that County Road guidelines from the 1980s until the present have outlined numerous engineering requirements for a road to be designated as a County Road. However, during this time, Greenleaf Lane was not the only substandard gravel road to be incorporated into the County road system.

According to residents, numerous gravel roads lacking acceptance records are presently being maintained. Additionally, roads that were explicitly denied acceptance by the commissioner’s court have been added to the County Road system.

Residents contend that while these roads continue to receive maintenance, the County is treating Greenleaf Lane differently by abruptly discontinuing maintenance without adhering to the due process required for decommissioning a road.

“The Texas Transportation Code says that if a county maintains a road, which they have done on this one up until four and a half years ago, they’d maintained it for 30 years. Then if they maintain it, then they own it and they have to continue to maintain it or they have to provide an alternate route. And they have not provided an alternate route and they have not maintained it for the last four and a half years,” said Jones.

However, County leaders argue that this is not the case.

“I have a legal and fiduciary responsibility as a commissioner to only use taxpayer money on roads that are established in the county road system,” said Brazos County PCT. 2 Commissioner Chuck Konderla.

County leaders insist while the road’s name may appear in the county’s road system, not all the road is their responsibility.

“It certainly could be very confusing if you were trying to establish whether that road was county maintained or not or in the county road system and to date I’m sorry to say we just don’t have anything that shows that the section of road they’re referring to which would be the culvert crossing and then the private road on the other side that has ever been taken into the county road system,” Konderla said.

“If it could be proven that, that was accepted into the county road system I would lead the way on the county maintaining it, but to date, we haven’t seen that proof,” said Konderla.

Brazos County PCT. 2 Commissioner Chuck Konderla
Brazos County PCT. 2 Commissioner Chuck Konderla(KBTX)

However, residents argue that photos they have from 2018 prove where county ownership begins. They also say commissioner court agendas and documents dating back to the 1980′s show where the county accepted maintenance on the road.

County Maintenance Sign Next to Culverts Spring 2018 Photo: Rescue Greenleaf
County Maintenance Sign Next to Culverts Spring 2018 Photo: Rescue Greenleaf(KBTX)

“The county has given us no evidence of their position we’ve given them plats and we have hired people to analyze this situation and all of them come to the conclusion that the county should be maintaining this. The county just says that we’re trying to make them maintain our private road,” said Jones.

County Maintenance Sign Showing County Ownership of Culverts 11/16/2018 Photo: Rescue Greenleaf
County Maintenance Sign Showing County Ownership of Culverts 11/16/2018 Photo: Rescue Greenleaf(KBTX)

“Our private road is going that way and we are not asking them to do anything with our private road. We are wanting them to maintain this end. This is the end that they abandoned three, four and a half years ago against the Texas Transportation Code,” Jones added.

Still, Konderla says while the county may have done work on the road at one point he argues the road was never in condition to where it would be accepted in the county road system.

“It’s a terrible situation. I’m a human being before anything and these are very kind and nice people. Our hands are tied. My hands are certainly tied. I’m only one of five votes on that dias and I can’t allocate public money, taxpayer money to a road that to date has shown not to be anything other than a private road,” Konderla said.

Typically, a county-maintained road is something you have a 70-foot right-of-way for and is brought to county standard by a developer, by an HOA, or by a group of people. It’s brought to county standard and kept at county standard for a period of time. That’s usually around two years. And then, at that time, the county commissioners can vote to adopt that roadway into the county road system,” Konderla said.

“That was done with the initial Rustic Oaks subdivision that ended in the cul-de-sac before the creek. So, you can go back and see that road was brought to county specs and accepted by the county. At that time, speaking with the developer of that subdivision, he knew that it was going to be very expensive to build a bridge over that low-water crossing to a county spec and then add a subsequent road,” Konderla added. So he dedicated an easement to the creek to the middle of the creek to be used for a private road later. And those residents there, their plats, and their deeds will show an easement for a private road to be constructed later. But to date, we don’t show that private road or that low-water crossing is in the county road system.”

Residents say they just want the county to take responsibility for the county-maintained road so that no one gets hurt.

“The county says that if we build on their road and somebody gets hurt, it’s our liability. And two, we’ll be trespassing if we build on their road. So they said that they can’t, their contingent is they can’t maintain half of it,” Jones said. “They claim that their property line ends in the middle of the creek and they won’t let us then build on their side, but they won’t do anything with their side. And so liability, somebody’s gonna get hurt.”

Residents have started a website that features more documents and photos related to the Greenleaf Lane road conditions and county maintenance.