Approximately 150 homeowners have, or will receive, letters this week from the advising them to take out items in the right-of-way including fences, “monumental mailboxes” and boulders, by fall of 2014.
The homes are specific to the Lake Road and SR 83, both state routes, and should the encroachments remain by the time the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) begins paving in 2015, the city could lose up to $2 million in state funding.
“The letter basically says their property has been identified as having an encroachment and we offer to come out and talk to them about it,” said.
Reitz said the city was willing to discuss option with homeowners.
ODOT did a drive through recently with Reitz and identified the properties. The issue came to light last March when the city realized it could lose the millions in funding which is generated at the federal level.
“(Property owners) have until next fall to do this,” Reitz said. “After that we’ll have no choice, we will remove (encroachments) or bill them. We’re giving them plenty of time.”
City officials have previously said they would not jeopardize losing millions in state funding.
Lake Road repaving and projects are expected to cost between $1.2 million -$1.5 million. That excludes the cost of repaving SR 83. The state of Ohio is paying for 80 percent of the project and could deny more than $2 million in funding for those projects if a clear zone is not ensured.
Reitz said that while two homes have removed encroachments since the issue was brought up, far more mailboxes have been added.
“ODOT members sat down with me and the mayor (Greg Zilka) and said they won’t get money from the federal government for the project if the obstructions aren’t moved,” Reitz said.
The issue actually dates back to 2003.
“The last time we got a letter in 2003 saying everything needed to be cleared 12 feet (from the road),” Avon Lake Councilman Marty O’Donnell said when the issue came up in March of 2011. “That included rocks, fences and (non-standard) mailboxes. They consider it a danger. They said if it’s not cleared they might not fund the project.”
Reitz added there was another risk factor involved in having permanent structures in the right-of-way.
“If there’s an accident involving a structure that’s in the right of way, you’re insurance company might now cover it,” he said.
In March of 2011,
Avon Lake Councilman Martin O’Donnell said funding and safety were primary issues.