A complaint filed with the Douglas County Board of Commissioners in early August regarding Toddler Lane in Belle River Township was discussed during a hearing Tuesday, Oct. 15, during the regular county board meeting.
Landowners Daniel and Lisa Graffunder filed the complaint, which stated that Belle River Township has not property maintained Toddler Lane and its right-of-way, and due to it being neglected, the road was impassable.
The Graffunders want to move a 34-foot-wide house onto their property at 13700 Toddler Lane NE and requested the removal of all trees and bushes, including the tall pine trees in the road right-of-way to make the road passable.
Included in the complaint was a timeline of the couple’s communication with the Belle River Township Board dating back to May 2016.
Testimony was given by the Graffunders, members of the Belle River Township Board, other Toddler Lane landowners and Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson. Afterward, Commissioner Tim Kalina made a motion to deem the road passable and that the township does not have to do any more work on it other than to maintain it as any other township road. Commissioner Jerry Rapp seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
Before making the ruling, Larson explained the state statute for an impassable road. Impassable, he said, had nothing to do with whether two vehicles can be on the road at the same time. Instead, he reiterated, it means impassable to travel on or over.
At one time Toddler Lane was a minimum maintenance road, but in July 2016 it was reportedly upgraded to a township road, according to minutes from a township board meeting that were presented at Tuesday’s hearing.
The Graffunders voiced their concerns and frustrations with the Belle River Township Board to the county commissioners, stating that they would really like to use the road as they thought they would be able to when they purchased the property.
Lisa Graffunder said part of the problem throughout this whole process is that at times they were told one thing and at other times they were told something different. She also said that the minutes of the meetings were not relevant because much of what was discussed during nearly the past three years of meetings is not in the minutes anyway.
“It looks like my husband and I were causing problems, but the township never did anything,” Lisa Graffunder told the commissioners. “It’s been a continual problem up to this summer.”
She said it was all spelled out in the couple’s complaint.
The Graffunders said they were just asking to use the road so that they could move their house to their property.
Before the commissioners made their decision, Rapp said that there are other township roads within the county that could be considered impassable, and that “township roads weren’t built for moving houses.” He said Toddler Lane was a passable road.
“It’s a lot better than the township road I’ve got,” Kalina said.