Many twists and turns in Mohave County road debate

A debate about how the county designates roads as county highways recently rolled into town, but it looks like state law is on the county's side.

The discussion revolves around which part of Arizona Revised Statute 28-6701 the county should have followed when it accepted a petition from Havasu Garden Estates, a Lake Havasu-area homeowner association, to take its roads into the county's maintenance system.

According to County Public Works Director Steve Latoski, how the county takes roads into its maintenance system depends on how you read the statute.

The subdevelopment is located north of Lake Havasu City near the airport and is surrounded by open land.

Sue Donahue, the office assistant of Board Chairman Buster Johnson, lives in the development and her husband, Don, is the current president of its homeowners association.

According to meeting minutes, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors received a petition from Bob Allen, the homeowner's association treasurer, to bring the subdevelopment's roads into the county's tertiary road maintenance system in July 2010.

Then, as part of its April 4, 2011 consent agenda, the Board accepted the rights of way for the streets and declared the roads county highways.

The county accepted the roads as county highways under the first part of the statute, said Latoski in an email.

The first section of the statute, 28-6701(A), states, "The board of supervisors may establish, alter or abandon a highway in the county or other legal subdivisions and acquire real property for these purposes by purchase, donation, dedication, condemnation or other lawful means."

Golden Valley resident Steven Robinson claims the first two parts of the statute have to be read together.

The second part of the statute, 28-6701(B), states that once the board accepts the recommendation for a county highway, a survey of the area must be made and a public hearing must be held, he said, and before the county can accept the road into its maintenance system and declare it a county highway, it must meet county roadway standards.

"The roads don't meet county standards," Robinson said.

He also pointed out that the roads do not meet an exception for streets laid out before June 13, 1975.

Streets laid out and open to the public before that date do not have to meet county standards to be taken into the road maintenance system.

The streets in Havasu Gardens were not open to the public until the county accepted them.

Because the county accepted the roads under ARS 28-6701(A), the streets do not have to be at current county standards before they can be accepted, even though they were not open to the public before April 2011, Latoski said.

The county chose to take the streets in under the first part of the statute because it "allowed the County more flexibility and we believed was a better application and better fit in this circumstance," he said.

The association also paid the county a one-time $40,000 maintenance fee, he said.

"The approximate $40,000 maintenance fee remitted by the Havasu Gardens Homeowners Association provides for future preventive maintenance treatments, some of which have or are currently being carried out," Latoski said in an email.

This is not the first time the county has accepted roads in this way, according to Latoski.

"The Board of Supervisors has taken similar actions regarding the acceptance of County roads approximately 10 times in a five-year period, 2007-2011," he said.