A group of Stevenson Heights property owners and lessees in Brookfield Township want the Trumbull County commissioners to vacate a portion of Jessie Road, an undeveloped paper street, alleging the township has abandoned the street.
Brookfield officials opposed the vacation, saying the road is used regularly for snow plowing.
Lead petitioner Kathryn L. Pasquerilla, who owns the old St. Bernadette Church picnic grounds across Jessie from the housing development, said she plans to press the issue.
A plan for Jessie was laid out, but the road was never built. The portion proposed for vacation runs from halfway between Balint Avenue and Francis Street west to Marie Road.
The petitioners are Pasquerilla; Robert Oliver of North Jackson; Lori Henning and James Sepulveda of Francis Street; and Michael Stahura and Constance Stahura of Austintown. They either own land that abuts Jessie Road or have options to buy land that abuts.
Pasquerilla said she wants to vacate the road so the dead ends of Francis and Balint avenues can be blocked off, preventing anyone from getting to the picnic grounds. Over the years that she has owned the picnic grounds, people have gone there to dump trash, party and steal things, and have gotten vehicles stuck in the mud, she said.
People think it’s abandoned, but Pasquerilla said she and her late husband, Paul, did extensive cleanups, and Henning and Sepulveda, who are leasing the property with intent to buy it, have kept up that effort, she said.
“It’s just an inconvenience to have people have the convenience to use that road,” Pasquerilla said. “More than an inconvenience.”
“It’s a liability,” she added. “It’s still in my name. It’s still my insurance. If someone goes down there and gets hurt, then they can come after me. It’s just nicer to not allow anybody down there.”
The petitioners said the township has lost all rights to Jessie Road because it has never maintained it, abandoned and not used it for more than 21 years.
Township Road Supt. Jaime Fredenburg said in a letter that he does not recommend vacating Jessie. He said the road crew plows this road to allow residents of Balint and Jessie access to their homes.
“The road gives the plow truck driver the ability to plow Francis Street, continue onto Jessie, then Balint, then Thomas Road and finally end up back onto Francis Street,” Fredenburg said. “This route allows the driver to circle the entire bottom of the allotment without turning around in a private drive.”
Without access to Jessie, plow drivers would have to use private drives to turn around, or the township would have to build turnarounds, which would require the acquisition of rights-of-way, he said.
Pasquerilla said there are other streets in the Stevenson Heights development that township plow trucks have to either back up to get out of or turn around in a driveway.
“There is no turnaround at any one of those spots,” she said. “Why would they need a turnaround for this, any different from the other spots?”
Township Trustee Dan Suttles also wrote a letter of opposition piggy backing on Fredenburg’s remarks, and denying that the township ever stopped using Jessie.
The Trumbull County Planning Commission, which opposed the vacation out of deference to the township, said a legal opinion from the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office recommends that, even when the 21-year clause is invoked, the township should pass a resolution in favor of the vacation, if it does not oppose it.
Before the commissioners will take up the request, the petitioners need to pay a $500 fee, and the issue will be subject to a public viewing and a public hearing.
A spokeswoman for the commissioners’ office said July 28 the petition is being reviewed, and no action has been taken on it.
Pasquerilla, who is paying the attorney’s fees and expenses, said she is behind the effort “100 percent.”
“If we lose, we lose,” she said.