Request by Council Member Nagel leads to improper closing of public road

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
At the Dorchester County Council meeting on Dec. 15, it was revealed that Corkran Cemetery Road in North Dorchester had been closed improperly. Though unpaved and little used, the road is public. The sign seen here was erected by county workers. Farther along the road, amid the trees in the background, a private citizen who was not identified had blocked the road with a chain and barrier.

CAMBRIDGE — At Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Dorchester County Council, it was revealed that a road near Rhodesdale had been improperly closed after a request by Council Member Libby Nagel (District 5). Corkran Cemetery Road, most of which is unpaved, is in District 4, represented by Council Member Lenny Pfeffer.

Director of the Department of Public Works Dave Edwards was asked by Mr. Pfeffer on Tuesday if he were familiar with the issue. Mr. Edwards said, “I was contacted last week by Councilwoman Nagel,” about closing the road. Mr. Edwards apologized to Mr. Pfeffer for not informing him of the move.

Signs announcing “Road Closed” were put up earlier this month at the northern and southern ends of the road, because, Mr. Edwards said, there was a deep hole that created a safety hazard.
Mr. Pfeffer asked if county personnel had placed a barrier farther along the road, with a chain and lock fastened to posts on both sides. Mr. Edwards said they had not, that the barrier had apparently been erected by a citizen.

“We need to get the cable removed,” Mr. Pfeffer said.
Ms. Nagel, though, still wants the road closed. “There are people riding through there,” and leaving trash behind, she said. “Clearly, there’s a safety issue there.”
Mr. Pfeffer noted safety as well — after he looked into the matter, he found that the Hurlock Fire Chief, 911 Center and Sheriff’s Office had not been notified that the public road had been closed and blocked. He asked Council President Jay Newcomb (District 1), “Is it ok to have the road closed by private owners?”

Mr. Newcomb said it was not. He said, “We did the sign, but we did not put the chain.”
Ms. Nagel questioned why anyone would use the road, saying, “Why are people traveling through there?”
One reason, Mr. Pfeffer said, was because Delmarva Power owns property on one side of the road, and the company might need access to maintain their lines.

The council decided, with Mr. Pfeffer opposed, to begin the legal process to have the road closed. County Attorney E. Thomas Merryweather said the first step would be a survey of the property, followed by a public hearing.

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