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Road rules approved

New regulations for development and improvement of county roads were approved by Crawford County justices of the peace during their meeting Monday night.

Crawford County Judge John Hall presented the updated regulations, standards and specifications to JPs at their regular monthly meeting.

In the new set of regulations, focus was placed on planned development - such as subdivisions - and water drainage from these areas into surrounding county roads.

While applied to all new roads in the county, the regulations were outlined specifically for unincorporated areas surrounding cities such as Van Buren and Alma.

Previously, developers in these areas were required to meet the city’s specifications for roads.

State legislators passed a law during their previous session limiting a city’s annexation jurisdiction based on population. For Crawford County, that means reducing cities’ jurisdiction from five miles to one mile.

Since the law was passed, county officials have been working on updated road standards to apply once it goes into effect July 1.

“We’re just trying to take up where the city left off,” Hall said.

Hall was one of the biggest proponents of the law restricting jurisdiction.

“I think it’s unfair for cities to impose their will on the county,” Hall said. “We need to be in control of our own destiny.”

One of the biggest differences between Van Buren’s standards and the county’s new standards is water drainage, Hall said.

Van Buren requires a curb and gutter system as inside city limits, but there were no requirements for the developer regarding drainage into surrounding areas or roads.

Under county regulations, developers are required to use culverts and ditches and also must ensure that water flow into surrounding roads is managed, to prevent those roads being flooded, Hall said.

Under the new standards, developers must work with the county during all stages of construction, presenting design plans, scheduling reviews and providing access to the site.

County officials will oversee all stages of construction, and once completed a third party - a licensed engineer registered in Arkansas - will assure that all requirements are met and certify the construction.

If the developer meets the county standards, after maintaining the structure for one year it will automatically be accepted into the county road system, Hall said.

“It gives the builder of a subdivision a little more assurance,” Hall said.

As it stands, a county judge can accept or deny a request for a road to be accepted into the county system on a whim, Hall said.

New regulations also have been set for private roads, mainly that the road is for three or less single-family residential parcels and that a sign indicating that it is a private road not built to county standards or maintained by the county be put in place.

Also, all private roads must be at least 50-feet wide, according to the new regulations.

There are exemptions to the regulations in certain circumstances, Hall said, but those exemptions must be approved by the county judge and members of the quorum court.

While the new regulations go into effect in July, they will only affect those roads built after that time.

“This does not affect any existing private roads or existing subdivision roads,” Hall said.

While the standards may be different from those of area cities, Hall feels those cities will not be greatly affected by the changes. He noted that much larger cities such as Dallas and Oklahoma City only have 1 mile of jurisdiction outside their city limits.

“For it to even impact [area cities], the economic outlook is going to have to get a lot better,” Hall said, and added that the standards are necessary to maintain “orderly growth.”

For more information on the new county road regulations, contact the county judge’s office at (479)474-1511.

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