Town of Norwood debates maintenance of state-maintained roads

Grass cutting along state-maintained roads was among the topics discussed at Monday’s meeting of the Norwood Town Council.

The council met with Mayor Pro Tem James Lilly, acting in lieu of Mayor Harold Thompson, whom Lilly said could not be there for personal reasons.

In public comments, several residents of Anchor Road spoke to the council about the town having stopped cutting grass on the right side of the road.

John Reynolds said the residents had not received any notification of the town’s decision to no longer mow the grass on the .3 mile stretch of the road.

Many of the residents also said the town had mowed the grass for many years, with Linda Clontz saying she has lived there for 22 years and the grass was always cut.

Reynolds said the issues of not maintaining the area included appearance and safety. He said many people use the area to walk.

The other reason to continue to mow the grass was fairness, noting the town of Norwood maintains a number of roads maintained by the state’s Department of Transportation including Allenton Road and Island Cove Road.

Reynolds said he was told the reason the Anchor Road stretch could no longer be maintained was budget constraints.

Roger Belk, another Anchor Road resident, said he pays city taxes and felt “we should get the amenities everybody else does.”

Town Administrator Scott Howard said he did not doubt the town used to mow the area, adding it was “good fortune on their part.”

Howard said it was his understanding the town only maintained DOT maintained roads when sidewalks were present which are owned by the town.

“We mow on both sides of those sidewalks,” Howard said.

The administrator added a DOT road does not have a Town of Norwood sidewalk on it. Mowing it would be trespassing.

Howard noted there are 6.4 miles of DOT land in Norwood and mowing both sides multiples the number to 12.8 miles. The DOT would not care if the town mowed state-maintained areas.

Michael Thomspon, Norwood’s director of public works, said mowing the .3-mile Anchor Road area would take about an hour.

Howard said in order to be fair and mow all 12.8 miles of state-owned roads in the town, Norwood would have to purchase additional mowers and hire a new employee .

It could be done, Howard added, but more money would have to be found.

When asked if the town had the money before and where it was now, Howard said the town did not have the money and is still operating at a deficit.

“That’s what we’re trying to change,” Howard said. “I’m not against mowing. I’m just telling you the choices we have.”

Councilman Robbie Cohen asked if the board could pass a motion for the town to continue mowing Anchor Road until residents of other areas complained about not having their areas mowed.

Having mowed for many years set a precedent, Cohen said.

He said the homeowners had grown used to the service. He did say he understood the idea of being fair to everyone.

Later in the meeting, Cohen made a motion for the town to continue mowing the Anchor Road area. Wes Hartsell seconded the motion and voted for the motion along with Cohen. Lilly and Councilwoman Betty Harrison voted against the motion, making it a 2-2 tie and causing the motion to fail.