BLUE EARTH - Most people don't think much about the ditches along roads, and even less about the right of way included in those ditches. But they are essential to public safety, says John McDonald, Faribault County engineer.
"It's important the county control that for drainage, snow storage and line of sight [for traffic]," he said.
That's why Faribault County has sent out a notice: "No encroachment into the county road right of way will be tolerated and all objects must be removed from the county road right of way."
"It's a state statute," said McDonald, citing Minnesota Statute 160.2715. "Now, we have a policy that says we're going to enforce it."
He added that a lot of townships already enforce right of way clearance, but the county has received complaints over the years about objects in the ditches, including rocks, monuments and crops.
"The policy states if we get a complaint or [see] someone's encroaching, a crew measures it," McDonald said.
"The county has a right of way for our roads," he explained. "It's various widths, from 33 feet to 75 feet from the center line."
The width can vary from road to road, but won't vary from mile to mile on the same road.
If a crew finds someone in violation of the right of way, property owners are given 10 days to correct it.
"If they don't do so, a county force will go out and restore the right of way," McDonald said. "The cost will be assessed against the encroachment violation. It'll depend on how far they're into the right of way and what area they're disturbing."
For questions, call McDonald's office at (507) 526-3291.