Tag Archives: Leon County

County Commission Votes Tonight: Save Our Canopy Road

In a front page story in the Valdosta Daily Times, Matt Flumerfelt writes:
VALDOSTA — The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners will vote today concerning the proposed paving of Quarterman Road, located off Hambrick Tree Farm Road.

The road is already partially paved, but some community members are concerned about the trees that line a section of the road that will have to be removed in order to complete the paving project.

There’s more. He ends with:
The commission will meet tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the County Commission Building on Savannah Avenue.
If you’re heading south down Patterson Street, turn right just before the overpass. That’s Savannah Avenue. Several blocks down you’ll see the water tower, and the commission office is on the left just before you get to the tower. If the parking lot is full, you can park across the street in the county fire station lot.

We’ll see if the county will consider the idea of treating canopy roads throughout the canopy as the benefit they are to the environment, beauty, and tourism.

Open Letter to Commisioner Lee

To: Richard C. Lee, District 2
Cc: Rodney N. Casey, Chairman
Cc: J. Edgar Roberts, District 1
Cc: G. Robert Carter, District 3
Cc: Jason Davenport, County Planner
Lowndes County Board of Commissioners
325 West Savannah Avenue
Valdosta, GA 31601


From: John S. Quarterman
residence 6565 Quarterman Road
3338 Country Club Rd. #L336
Valdosta, GA 31605
10 November 2008

Commissioner Lee,

Thank you for meeting with us Friday. That was a good beginning to a conversation, much like I had hoped we would have after you attended our neighborhood meeting of June 5 in which we requested further options and my letter of August 7 in which I also requested further options regarding Quarterman Road. Now we’re talking!

Quarterman Road Frontage Owned by Opponents of Clearing and PavingI understand that there has been some confusion as to who wants to do what with Quarterman Road. This is why we have clarified neighborhood opinion with the petition of 26 October showing that a majority of households on the road and the owners of a majority of the road frontage do not want the road paved, at least not using the current plan the county is pursuing of clearing a 60 foot right of way and tearing down the tree canopy.

Apparently there has also been some confusion as to what the state requires the county to do. I hear that some time in the past the county was planning to use state money to improve Quarterman Road. If so, I see how that money could have come with requirements from the state. That would explain why the current county paving plan, which was originally drawn up many years ago, looks more like a state highway than a rural local county road. However, as I am sure you are aware, SPLOST VI is a local tax, not state money, so there are no such requirements along with it. I confirmed this with the District Engineer with GDOT. He tells me that the state makes no requirements on the county as to what to do with Quarterman Road, which the state classifies as functional class 9, a rural local road. Continue reading

Play SOCR Like Florida: Save Our Canopy Road

Yesterday some of us finally got to talk to one of the paving proponents inside the county government to try to persuade him to Save Our Canopy Road In response we hear Safety! Professional engineer’s opinion! AASHTO standards! Highest and best use!

Why the county should determine highest and best use is different from what 60% of the households on the road have said in a petition is mysterious to me; more on that below.

They claim they have to have a 60 foot right of way, that they can’t have trees close to the roadbed, they have to have wide sloping ditches, paving just like Hambrick Road, and a 45 MPH speed limit.

Yet just across the state line, Leon County, Florida advertises their canopy roads as tourist attractions, and both dirt and paved they have trees just as close to the roadbed as our canopy does now. Pictured on the right is Old Bainbridge Road, Leon Co., Fla. Does it remind you of anything?

Tallahassee is well known for its canopy roads. Valued by citizens, the roads offer a peaceful alternative to the typical city view of asphalt, cement, signs and visual clutter.
They have canopy road regulations in the county code, plus a tree inventory, a management schedule, an interactive tour, and a printable 11 page brochure.

Old Magnolia Road, Leon County, FloridaSome of their canopy roads are dirt, such as old Magnolia Road (middle of page 6):

“…one of our most scenic dirt roads. Because of slow driving along Magnolia Road, this detour will add about 40 minutes. Magnolia Road can be slick in rainy weather.”

“Historic Magnolia Road is one of the most Picturesque in Leon County. …Remember to wave at those you pass — it’s southern tradition on dirt roads.”

Others were paved carefully to protect the canopy:

“Drive slowly and enjoy the majesty of this beautiful road with its lush vegetation. This first portion of Miccosukee Road was paved in the 1980s. Care was taken to preserve the rural character of the road; it is narrow and weaves to protect the canopy.”

Leon County is far from alone in Florida in having canopy roads.

Sarasota County has 61 canopy roads, and a “Canopy Road Ordinance (Art. IV, §98-92)”.

Here are pictures of canopy roads all over Florida. Some are dirt, some are paved. Most have trees just as close to the roadbed as on Quarterman Road.

And Florida is far from alone. Here’s one near Buffalo, NY.

Here’s a writeup by the town of Mount Pleasant on Mathis Ferry Road, Mount Pleasant, SC, citing a state scenic roads program. Georgia has one of those, too.

What about Savannah? Surely everyone has driven along Victory Drive.

Or US 17 near Eulonia in McIntosh Co. on the way to Darien.

If all that is not enough to address the safety issue, here’s a canopy road that GDOT admits is 20% safer than other roads of its class: Forest Hill Road, Bibb County, Georgia.

AASHTO standards are guidelines, not requirements. Obviously other places have managed not only to keep canopy roads with safety, they have turned them into tourist assets. That seems like a higher and better use than tearing them down.

Quarterman Road Classification Previously we were also told by the county that Quarterman Road had been redesignated by the state as a collector. I checked Thursday, and GDOT says Quarterman Road, Lowndes County Road 160, is functional class 9, rural local road. GDOT tells me that this means the state does not tell the county what to do with this road: the state does not require a 60 foot right of way, and the county could improve or pave the road in any number of other ways. If the county took state money, the state might make requirements, but SPLOST VI is not state money: it’s a local tax.

There are paved roads in Lowndes County right now that are not 60 feet wide, such as Rusk Road, and if I’m not mistaken Chapelle Road.

It’s clear that Quarterman Road does not have to have a 60 foot right of way cleared, even if it is paved.

Lowndes County government proponents of paving have not responded to requests for other options. We asked when they attended a neighborhood meeting on June 5. I asked in a letter of August 7. Others called and asked. Nobody ever responded. The way we discovered the county was moving ahead with paving was when I saw a truck creeping along and asked what they were doing:

Looking to see what it will take to tear down all the trees along the right of way! It’s going up for bids Monday!
Since then the county has put the road out for bids and they selected the low bid Monday Nov 3rd. Unless the commission stops it Tuesday Nov 11th, clearing starts Wednesday Nov 12th.

We finally got a meeting with our county commissioner Friday Nov 7th (yesterday).

How does Leon County do it? They treat it as a community planning project. They have a canopy roads committee with four members from the county and four members from the city that recommends roads to designate as canopy roads. They have workshops on:

“how to manage, protect and plan for the future of the canopy roads and canopy corridors in Tallahassee, Leon County.”

We can only assume that Lowndes County is unaware of these many examples of canopy roads in other counties. I’m sure there are people on Quarterman Road who would be happy to find out more about how other counties do it.

The first thing to be done is to stop the clearing of Quarterman Road, and we ask the county commission to stop that Tuesday.

We also ask the county to establish a citizens’ committee to evaluate canopy roads in the county and how to preserve them. How many county roads are there in the county? How are they being protected? What guidelines can we develop to preserve them? How do other counties maintain their canopies with safety for residents?

This is a planning and zoning issue, not just an engineering issue. It is also a citizens’ issue, not just a county government issue.

The Lowndes County Commission meeting of Tuesday 11 November is public. The county government likes citizen participation. Help us preserve the rural character of our canopy road, and of Lowndes County. Y’all come!