Supervisors need to address issue

Published 12:07am Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Regarding the “You Asked” article published on Monday, Feb. 25, the subject article concerned whether it is legal for a person to take timber of embankment from the right-of-way of a public road. That is the issue which I presented before the Board of Supervisors on Friday, June 13, 2008.

At that time the board indicated in its minutes (which were approved by vote of the board, signed by the board president and place into the public record) that it would investigate and make a determination.

Instead, the board did nothing for eight months; then when I wrote the president a letter of inquiry, the board decided to abdicate on the matter without revising or rescinding the minutes.

I attempted to appeal before the board but was denied permission. Since that time, I have tried to inform the board as to Mississippi Law concerning public vs. private rights and the board’s duties concerning the county’s recorded right-of-way easements which exist so that the board can maintain the public roadways.

“Maintain” means “to keep in an existing state” (Webster & Black’s Law Dictionary). A board of supervisors which has “full jurisdiction” and the duty to “exercise” it (code; 65-7-1, 65-7-115, 19-3-41; state of Mississippi constitution, sect. 170, 190) cannot maintain our roadways if it permits individuals without petition as required by law (code, 65-7-57) to encroach (trespass) upon the right-of-way and destroy and/or take what they will.

The subject article leads the public to believe that anyone who owns land adjacent to a public roadway “may cut down trees on a county right-of-way.” I hereby assert that this is utterly false and that it flies in the face of well-settled Mississippi Law — constitutional, statutory and case. It is particularly contradictory to the statements of the Supreme Court of Mississippi in Grisham v. Hinton, No. 56042 (1986); a case fifty-five years later than Campbell v. Covington, which was cited in the subject article. Further, Campbell in no way supports a landowner “cutting down trees on a county right-of-way”.

The “A.G. Opinion” mentioned in the subject article is No. 2012-00119 (May 2012). It stresses the board’s jurisdiction and duty to maintain the public roadways, and states that “the county retains control over both the roadway and that amount of land adjacent to the roadway necessary to maintain the road.”

More important than theft of public assets by unauthorized individuals is the following: If individuals are permitted to operate earth-moving machinery, and fell timber up to the pavement of active public roads with or without warning signs, barricade or flagman; and to reverse drainage, and flood pavements with slick mud while denying residents the right to obtain an injunction and hearing (all of which occurred on Dunbar Road in June, 2008), then:

The word will spread that the Board of Supervisors will take no action (four individuals have already told me they intend to take timber from public road right-of-ways).

Eventually, in this county or another, there will be vehicular damage and/or death, and a “willfully negligent” Board of Supervisors will be sued and held liable for damages (to be paid from taxpayer funds).

I stand ready to discuss Mississippi Law concerning public vs. private rights relative to language in deeds, vs. surveys; deed covenants, right-of-way easements, the importance of trees alongside a roadway and the impact of the removal of said trees, upon tourism in this county.

 

Lynn Wirtz

Adams County resident

  • Anonymous

    I’ll cut my trees down near the road any day I choose. :)

  • Anonymous

    I guess he is still mad at Dr. Barnett. Looks like he has done some legwork since.

  • Anonymous

    His leg work strikes me as just a tad obsessive. :)

  • Anonymous

    Mr Wirtz says, “Campbell in no way supports cutting down trees on a county right of way.” Actually it does:
    “And, whether the right of way is acquired by condemnation or prescription, the title to the soil, and all the profits thereof consistent with the existence of the easement, remain in the original owner. The title of the owner, subject only to the easement, remains perfect, not only to the land covered by the highway, but to all the material within its boundaries, except such as may be needed to build or maintain the road. The owner has title to any superfluous earth, gravel, or rock, not necessary or useful to the construction or repair of the highway, and to all mines, quarries, trees, grass, springs of water, growing crops, pasturage upon and above the surface of the soil covered by the highway. But all these rights are subordinate to the use for which the land has been acquired by the public. The ownership of the trees in the highway remains in the proprietor of the fee, and, unless forbidden by statute, he may remove them at pleasure, having regard to the safety, and convenience of the traveling public.”
    Campbell v. Covington County, 137 So. 111, 112 (Miss. 1931)
    The Supreme Court specifically says the owner of the property can remove dirt and trees from a county right of way. That refutes his claims.
    Does anyone else think otherwise?

    Grisham doesn’t mention trees on county right of ways. It talks about trees on another person’s property in fee. So it isn’t relevant.