Charles Smith doesn't know what it would take to get rid of the trespassing on his property, the loitering around the old truss iron bridge, the illegal dumping and deer poaching or the “kids doing wheelies in the mud.”
More than 10 years ago, Smith had put gates at either end of the bridge, County Road 306, and posted a sign saying, “Please close gate behind you.”
The gates seemed to have helped.
“It slowed down the junk traffic,” Smith said.
But after about a year, Smith said he was told he couldn't have those gates there, and he had to take them down.
Tuesday, Smith went before Brown County commissioners to seek permission to install the gates there again.
“The gates will never be locked,” Smith said. “Nearly every rancher was raised with gates, and it's really no trouble to open a gate and close it.”
Smith contends since 306 runs parallel to County Road 218, “it serves no purpose” and insisted, still with the gates, “if anyone needs to go in they can.”
After Smith stated his case in court, Precinct 3 Commissioner Richard Gist said in the last several weeks he had heard from people against the gates, and more seemed to be against than for.
Also, said Gist, depending on if the road is a Class 1, 2 or 3 road, it might not be allowed to have gates.
“I'm not there yet as far as being in favor of the gate,” Gist said.
Neighbors up the road, coincidentally Gist's wife's brother and wife, Jimmie and Carol Holamon protested the gates, saying the gates would push traffic in front of their house, cause delays for them, and would force turn-arounds right in front of their home.
“It is a problem to open and close a gate – if it's raining,” Carol Holamon said.
After a bit of back-and-forth discussion, Gist, who was presiding over the court meeting because Brown County Judge Ray West had been delayed by another court matter, asked that the court recess until West could be present. Property rights and roadways happen to be West's area of legal expertise.
West listened to the two sides and studied the map, and said that since County Road 306 is an extension of Farm-to-Market Road 510, Smith's charge would be to have the consent or objection of all landowners who would be affected by the gates across the roadway.
“It's not doable,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Clark.
“You won, Richard,” Smith said, but Gist and West said it was not a matter of “winning.” Commissioners and West offered suggestions of what Smith might do to cut down on the problems. Smith owns the property on either side of the road.