By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
MECCA -- Township trustees have voted to advertise for bids for $405,000 worth of improvements to Morell-Ray Road despite the objections of many residents.
"All those people want is some gravel and ditches and they are building the autobahn out there," said Atty. Michael Rossi, who is representing resident Darryl Black in a lawsuit against the trustees.
The suit, filed in Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, contends that Michael Colello, one of the township trustees, should not have voted on assessing people who live on the road for some of the cost of improvements because he lives only a half-mile away.
On this type of project, state law gives trustees the option of assessing people who live within a half-mile or mile of a road improvement, as well as those who live on the road.
Looking over proposals
About 50 people attended a township hearing last night to review proposed improvements to the single-lane dirt track that connects state Route 88 and Housel-Craft Road.
Few question that the rutted, pot-holed township road is in need of work, but many residents object to the way trustees have chosen to pay for it, said Black, a former trustee who lives on Morrell-Ray Road.
Trustees secured a zero-interest, 10-year loan from the state to pay for the project. At the end of last year, they voted that residents who live on Morrell-Ray Road should pay half the loan payments.
"We can't pay the whole thing," said Trustee Tom Gladd. "It would empty our road budget."
He said no grants were available to fix the road because traffic on it is so light. About 25 people live on Morrell-Ray, he said.
Improvements include digging ditches in sections where there are none now. Officials say ditches would help alleviate problems where there are several houses with nonfunctioning septic systems.
At the planned assessment of $10.82 per foot of frontage, Black said his share of the bill for road improvements is more than $10,000.
One of his neighbor's share will be more than $20,000, he said.
"They are trying to railroad people into this," Black said.