LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lancaster County is facing challenges caused by homeowners extending their landscaping projects to county-maintained roads.
County staff is working with a homeowner who recently bought a house with a large koi pond in the front yard. The pond often extends onto the county road, saturating the pavement, which could eventually lead to the road deteriorating, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .
The county’s attorney is sending a letter to property owner who rejected filling in a newly extended pond that spreads onto the county right of way. The lawyer says the county would be forced to remove the pond and bill the homeowner if he did not do it himself.
“If you saturate the soil under the road, then it loses its ability to support the road,” said Lancaster County engineer Pam Dingman. “You start getting cracks and pavement failure.”
The sidewalk is often regarded as the dividing line in the city, but the right of way extends to the homeowners’ property line, which is often beyond the sidewalk into the front lawn.
The county right of way expands from 33 feet to 60 feet on either side of the middle of the road, usually extending beyond the roadside ditch.
Lancaster County controls and sometimes owns the right of way. County officials have only permitted the construction of mailboxes in that area, chiefly for safety considerations, but also to preserve the road itself.
The engineer’s staff tries persuading property owners to remove anything that is an obstacle or hazard in the right of way. If necessary, the staff takes official action.
“We try to coordinate with the landowner before we get to the point where we have to start a legal process,” said Dingman.