The Why of R.O.W Maintenance
The VBCRC maintains the county road right-of-way for the traveling public. This includes maintaining proper sight distance for drivers, ensuring proper drainage, and tree trimming and removals. Additionally, by keeping water, shade, and grass build-up off the road preserves the life of the road and prevents cracking, potholes, and weak road bases. In winter months, sunlight helps keep the road warmer and drier in snowy conditions.
De-berming is the process of removing built-up soil, grass, and other material from the edge of the roadway, allowing water to effectively drain off the roadway. A property owner may contact the Van Buren County Road Commission to request keeping the spoils from de-berming.
Ditching and Drainage
Ditching along the roadside may include removing built-up soil and/or vegetation from an existing ditch, digging out flat land to create a ditch, placing culverts under roadways, or replacing existing and failing culverts. Much of this work occurs on an as-needed basis. Residents may request an evaluation for ditching and drainage work by reporting the location to VBCRC at 269-674-8011 ext. 0 or online at SeeClickFix.com.
A property owner may contact the Van Buren County Road Commission to request the removal of a tree from the county road right-of-way. Van Buren County Road Commission staff will determine if a tree is a safety hazard, sight distance concern, or negatively impacting the roadway and should be removed. If the tree is not deemed a safety concern, residents may obtain a free right-of-way permit and remove the tree themselves or by hiring a tree removal company. The property owner may keep the wood or have it removed by the Road Commission.
Bat Species Impacted by Tree Cutting
Van Buren County is home to endangered bat species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The bats have a habitat of live and dead trees three (3") inches or larger in diameter. Therefore, tree removals must take place during periods of hibernation (October 15 through March 31) or, in some instances, require additional consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This prohibition does not affect emergency operations.
First Right of Refusal
When a project or maintenance operation takes place in the road right-of-way that creates materials and debris, the adjacent property owner shall have the first right of refusal to keep wood or spoils. Property owners may be notified with a project letter outlining the “first right of refusal,” or individually contacted by Road Commission staff. If a letter or notice is provided to a property owner, a 14-day notice requirement exists for contacting the Road Commission to keep the material. No response within 14 days indicates refusal.