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County Supervisors Resolve Rural Field Driveway Issue

By Staff | Dec 13, 2007

A dispute involving rural field driveways was resolved by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during their Tuesday, Dec. 4, meeting. Rural Palo Alto County residents Nick Leuer and Nick Fank were in attendance.

At the Nov. 27 meeting of the board, Leuer and Fank had requested that the Supervisors reconsider their county rules regarding the location of field driveways. Action on the matter had been tabled until the Supervisors could visit the driveways in question.

According to Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, county standards dictate that field driveways be located at least 150 feet from intersections to give drivers a chance for greater reaction times and for the ease of snow movement for snowplows and drifting.

“I went out and looked at the driveways and I can’t see any reason to change them. They’re wide and clear,” said Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.

Leuer agreed, “Save the taxpayers some money and don’t move them. I request that you leave mine where it is.”

“If these driveways have not been a problem and they’re clear and visible, well, safety should come first, but if it’s not a safety problem I think we should give them that option,” added Keith Wirtz, Supervisor.

“I talked to Emmet, Dickinson, Clay, and Buena Vista and none of the supervisors had heard of any rules for driveways,” Hofstad noted. “Wherever they are and wherever they put them is fine.”

Joel Fantz interjected, “So, the policy should be willy-nilly regardless of safety.”

“I’m not saying that,” said Hofstad.

“That’s exactly what you’re saying,” responded Fantz.

“No, I’m not, I’m saying what they [other counties] did,” Hofstad stated. “My theory would be willy-nilly with a little bit of caution.”

Fantz referred to research that he had conducted on the issue stating that 150 feet is the minimum a driveway should be located from an intersection.

“You can try and balance safety and the needs of the individual,” said Fantz. “But you have a position of special trust and confidence to do the right and safe thing. If you want to abandon that, that’s your choice, not mine.”

“So be it,” said Hofstad.

Nick Fank noted that while traveling on Highway 18, he saw seven driveways closer than the 150 foot minimum to the intersections.

“I don’t have a problem with the ones that are already there, but I think if a snow issue comes up, we need to keep them away from the intersections,” said Supervisor Ron Graettinger. “Maybe we don’t need 150 feet. I think if we have at least 60 feet from the corner that would be good. We shouldn’t move existing driveways, but we shouldn’t just abandon our standards either. It’s a safety issue. We have to look at them no matter what, it’s our job.”

Supervisor Ed Noonan made a motion to move all new field driveways from 150 feet to 60 feet from the intersections. Any existing field driveway that is scheduled to be widened will be moved to 60 feet unless safety issues arise. The motion, seconded by Hofstad, passed unanimously.

“That is something I can live with,” concluded Fantz, ending the discussion.