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Who owns this bridge?

County board struggles with ownership in Selby Township

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 3:12 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 3:16 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — Figuring out who has jurisdiction over an old bridge in Selby Township was a major topic of discussion at Tuesday night’s Bureau County Board meeting.

The controversial debate was sparked after Greg Hinton of La Grange applied for a conditional use permit to place a double-wide mobile home on his property at 1550 North Avenue, Selby Township.

To get the mobile home back to his property, heavy trucks would have to cross the old bridge over Bureau Creek leading back to the property.

This has caused concern for Selby Township Highway Commissioner George Glover, who pointed out on Tuesday the bridge is in the worst condition he’s ever seen for a bridge. The old bridge has never been maintained for as long as he can remember because it was not recognized as a public road, and it’s never been inspected by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

Since applying for the conditional use permit, Hinton has gotten permission from a nearby farmer to use his field for the purpose of avoiding the bridge to get the mobile home to his property.

But figuring out who has jurisdiction over the bridge is still a concern to Glover. After looking through old records from the county and township, he has found no evidence of either one taking jurisdiction over the bridge.

The township has been collecting motor fuel tax on the road, but Glover pointed out that necessarily doesn’t mean anything because sometimes the township receives tax money on roads they shouldn’t, and sometimes they don’t receive money on roads they should.

Attorney Bob Russell, who represents the township, spoke to the board on Tuesday.

“The issue here tonight is not whether Selby Township wants the Hintons to put a double-wide on their property. The issue is how they are going to get it here, and is this body going to force the township to pickup the road that they never had, they didn’t build? They didn’t build the bridge and never maintained it,” he said. “Don’t force the township to take a road it never made, or a bridge they never built and doesn’t want to maintain.”

Bureau County Highway Engineer John Gross has looked into the matter and found the road and bridge was designated for private use, but falls under the maintenance responsibility of Selby Township District, as the road does appear on an IDOT field report dating back to 1997, and the township collects motor fuel tax on the road.

It wasn’t in the hands of the county board to determine who had jurisdiction of the road and bridge on Tuesday. Their agenda asked for a vote on whether or not to approve the conditional use permit for Hinton’s mobile home.

Attorney John Isaacson, who represents the Hinton family, reminded the board the planning commission, zoning board of appeals and zoning committee all had approved a recommendation for the permit.

He also pointed out Glover’s concerns about the integrity of the bridge.

“In 2007, shortly after the Hintons bought the property, they constructed a Morton building, which had a concrete base. So concrete trucks came over that bridge with no problems,” he said. “So perhaps the bridge isn’t as bad as you might be led to believe.”

The county board ultimately approved the condition use permit to allow the Hinton’s to place a mobile home on their property,

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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