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Prosecutor: Engineer should have been consulted

Published 10:40am Tuesday, November 12, 2013

FAYETTE TOWNSHIP — A pathway along Burlington-Macedonia Road should have been constructed by the Lawrence County Engineer, not by the township trustee who laid the gravel.

That is the opinion of assistant prosecuting attorney Jeffrey Smith.

In mid-October Lawrence County Commissioners approved Fayette Township Trustee Mike Finley’s plan to create the path to provide a way for those using wheelchairs or pushing baby strollers to keep them out of the middle of Burlington-Macedonia Road as they travel to the shopping center on U.S. 52.

Finley, who did the work himself and said he did not use public funds, did not consult with County Engineer Doug Cade, who sought a prosecutor’s opinion because he said the work was in violation of the Ohio Revised Code.

“ORC 5573.01 is very clear that only the county engineer has the authority to develop plans and specifications for the construction of any road improvement for county and township roads,” Cade wrote in his letter to Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson.

Cade also wrote the project was constructed without local, state or federal standards.

“I believe this has led to potential liability of this office and the county should an unfortunate accident occur or taxpayer wish to pursue the issue,” the letter stated.

Smith’s opinion dated Nov. 7 confirms Cade should have been consulted about the design and the actual work.

“It is the opinion of this office that the construction of public sidewalks along the public right of way of public highways located outside any municipal corporation in the county may be approved by the board of county commissioners or board of township trustees, but shall be planned, designed and constructed by the county engineer in accordance with Ohio RC 5543.10 and 5543.11,” Smith writes.

He also advises that the commissioners consider rescinding their resolution or amend it to accept the plan for the path and submit it to Cade.

“Subject to the requirement that the county engineer have general supervision of the construction of such sidewalk,” Smith writes.

Despite the opinion, Finley, who was defeated last week in his bid for re-election as a Fayette trustee, maintains he was trying to help his constituents.

“I don’t know what to think,” he said. “I guess the commissioners and I were wrong. I read what the Ohio Revised Code said. I don’t know if the prosecutor had all the right information or not. I just can’t see how you can put somebody out in the roadway and say that is public safety.”

Calls made to Cade and Commission President Bill Pratt were not returned by press time.

 

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  • Country

    So the gravel was not purchased with public funds?
    This is put on the Right of Way so there are rules to follow. Which Cade saw as not following the rules then was upheld by a legal opinion. Needs are many in the county just as there are many that feels the need to sue to get something for nothing.

    (Report comment)

    • For the Greater Good

      No, the gravel was not purchased with public funds. Have you even seen the location of this gravel path? People have used the cut through for years. However, it hasn’t been fit to be used for strollers as it is muddy, etc. This is and was a bogus issue pursued for political gain- nothing more and nothing less. I believe the Engineer was contacted about the project by Pastor Mann (as were the Trustees and the Commissioners). Right or wrong – the Commissioners approved the project. Instead of casting stones and throwing up road blocks the week before elections- why didn’t he just suggest needed improvements to bring the walking path to his standards? or why not set up a timeline to complete the project so that people know that their projects are being thoughtfully considered and will actually be completed? We need officials who want to work for the people and get the job done. Less talk more action. Kudos Mike Finley for at least trying to accomplish something for the greater good!

      (Report comment)

  • mikehaney

    Finley, who did the work himself and said he did not use public funds —sounds like he did this as a private citizen to get something needed, done.
    Now here come the politicians.

    (Report comment)

  • Ed Moellendick

    Now that this project has been started, we hope the Engineer will see that it gets completed. Mr. Finley had great insight for the need, now will Mr. Cade follow thru or will he force Mr. Finley to remove the pathway. If you drive this road, you will see individuals walking in the road because there is nowhere else to walk. What this area really needs is a sidewalk, but we all know that the first thing you would hear from the Commissioners or the Engineer is that there is no money for such a project. Mr. Finley had a great idea, now let’s see if the Engineer will follow thru and complete it to his standards.

    (Report comment)

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