The future livelihood of a Lowell couple remains in question as they await a decision on whether Washington County will vacate the road to their business.
Sherilee and Ray Augenstein, of 500 Junk Yard Lane, have operated Ray's Parts, a junkyard, for 20 years with a junkyard license, about 4 1/2 miles north of Lowell.
To continue operating, however, they must obtain a new license - an auto dealer salvage license - to allow them to continue to sell parts. Included in the new license's requirements is that they must move the junk cars because the cars can be seen from the road, according to an inspector's report from earlier in the year. Without the new license, the business cannot operate, and no income is available.
"I haven't been able to sell parts for six months," Ray said.
The Augensteins met Thursday with the Washington County commissioners so the commissioners could consider their June 6 request to vacate the road, taking it out of township control and making it a private road, to be maintained by the Augensteins.
Junk Yard Road (Salem Township 1356) is only about 724 feet long and a dead end. The Augensteins said the only people that use it are their customers.
Despite being a township road, in Ohio, the decision to vacate a road rests with the county commissioners, said Washington County Commission President David White. The trustees can offer their opinions, but the ultimate authority is the county.
To obtain the new license, the couple had to submit photos of their office, business sign and the site where the cars are stored and the fee, which Sherilee Augenstein said she sent in May 22.
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles said the fee for the auto salvage license is $100 plus other charges if the business needs dealer's tags.
A main sticking point in making the decision to vacate the property is verifying no adjacent property owner is prevented from gaining access to a public road.
"It's not going to landlock anyone, including the timber company, which has access on Ohio 530," said Commissioner Ron Feathers.
The Forestland Group, LLC, based in Parkersburg and Chapel Hill, N.C., cuts timber on an adjacent property.
The company asked that the road not be vacated.
"It is in Heartland Forestland Fund VII, L.P.,'s best interest that this road remains with the township and not be vacated," wrote Greg Wilhel, assistant to Regional Director, The Forestland Group LLC, in a letter to the commissioners. "It is access to our property and (we) fear that upon closure (it) will no longer be available to us for our use. It is our hope that the Washington County Commissioners see fit to keep it open to us."
Sherilee said the only party that did not sign her petition to ask for the road to be vacated was the Zimmermans, whose property does not touch any of the Augensteins' property.
"It's got your livelihood in jeopardy," White told the Augensteins.
Barring any evidence a neighbor might be landlocked, the commissioners expect to make a decision Wednesday during the weekly commissioners meeting, rescheduled from Thursday because of the 4th of July holiday.
In other action Thursday, the commissioners will send letters to three property owners in the Woodlawn subdivision of who have failed to get connected to the recently completed sewer system.
The letter states:
"We reaffirm to you the county's requirement that you must be disconnected from the common pipe and connected to the new sewer line in the Woodlawn Acres Subdivision. This work was to have been completed by May 1, but as of today, your property remains unconnected.
The Ohio EPA is requesting the county verify that all connections have been completed. We cannot close out this project until all connections are made."
Those residents are asked to connect by July 15. They also must contact Superintendent Craig Baker at (740) 350-1594 to schedule an inspection.