HUNTSVILLE — Scott County Commission will consider purchasing a small piece of property at a cost of $3,000 per acre to repair a slide area along Sawmill Road in Robbins that resulted from last week’s flooding rains.
That was the recommendation of the legislative body’s Intergovernmental Committee on Monday, following a gentlemen’s agreement that was struck between county road superintendent Dick Sexton and landowner Lee Crabtree.
The two men told commissioners that the road department was forced to relocate a portion of Sawmill Road onto private property owned by Crabtree after the road gave away in the aftermath of last week’s heavy rainfall. Crabtree said the road has continued to break off since the rains ended, sliding into a hole that is at least 40 feet deep.
As a result, Sexton said, it would be cost-prohibitive — and perhaps even impossible — to repair the slide area.
“I’ve seen a lot of slides on television, but this is probably the worst one I’ve seen here,” Sexton said.
Rick Burke, who represents the 7th District on County Commission but is also employed by the road department, said the price tag associated with fixing the slide would likely cost $300,000 to $400,000 if the road was not relocated.
“The slide is gone,” Burke said. “It’s deep. It’s wide. There’s a lot of money in there.”
Sexton agreed, saying the slide itself would not be fixed.
“That’s out of the question,” he said. “It would be very, very, very expensive.”
Crabtree said he and Sexton had come to an agreement for the county to purchase the property it needed from Sexton to relocate the area around the slide, at a cost of $3,000 per acre.
“He and I had a handshake,” Sexton said. “You don’t hear of that anymore — a deal being made on a handshake. But I had to get it fixed.”
Ironically, Crabtree petitioned County Commission to close the road — which leads from East Robbins to Brimstone Creek — several years ago. His request was rejected. Since that time, property along the road has been developed by ATV enthusiasts. Crabtree said there are 20 different landowners along the road, and added that there are six cabins or houses, along with “multiple campers” that use the road for access.
“Folks bought the property with the idea that there was a county road there to gain access to it, but now there’s not,” Crabtree said.
In response to a question from 6th District Commissioner Robin Newman, Sexton said he could not guarantee that the land would not continue to give way, eventually threatening the relocated portion of the roadway. Likening it to the tip of an iceberg, Sexton said the newly relocated portion of roadway “looks good now, even though it was the only choice we had,” but said that if the road continues to give way, there will be no further options for repairing it.