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Roadway Abandonment Policy and Procedures
City of Bainbridge

1.0 Definition and Policy Discussion

Roadway abandonment is defined as the intentional and permanent relinquishment of claim and title to real property that forms a segment of the City of Bainbridge roadway network or was acquired or held for future use as a portion of the roadway network. A roadway can only be abandoned once it has been determined that no substantial public purpose will be served by the City retaining ownership of the property. All roadway abandonment is initiated by a formal written request of an applicant. Any roadway abandoned by the City of Bainbridge will be considered surplus property, and may be disposed of as outlined in Section 2.0 of this policy.

2.0 Legal Compliance

Roadway abandonment is governed by the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Title 32-7-2(c): When it is determined that a section of the municipal street system has for any reason ceased to be used by the public to the extent that no substantial public purpose is served by it, the municipality, by certification recorded in its minutes, accompanied by a plat or sketch, and after notice to property owners located thereon, may declare that section of street shall no longer be a part of the municipal street system and the rights of the public in and to that section of street as a public street shall cease. The property may be disposed of by the municipality as provided in Code Section 32-7-4.

Streets belong to the general as well as the local public. If the control and general supervision of streets is conferred by the legislature upon the City, the City holds them in trust for the convenience and use of the public at large. It then becomes the City's duty to keep them in safe and suitable condition for the passage of persons and transportation of commodities.

The basic principles of law regarding streets are pronounced in at least two cases, Jones, etal. v. City of Moultrie, et al., 196 Ga. 526 (1943); Accord: Soles v. City of Vidalia, 92 Ga. App. 839 (1955):
A highway is a public way open and free to anyone who has occasion to pass along it on foot or with any kind of vehicle. The streets of a city belong to the public, and are primarily for the use of the public in the ordinary way. The primary object of streets is for public passage. They should be kept open and unobstructed for that purpose...The streets of the city are peculiarly within the police control for the purpose of preserving and protecting their use by the public as thoroughfares.

In addition to compliance with the general legal principles expressed above, the roadway closure and privatization policy will comply will all applicable State and Federal laws.

3.0 Procedure

The following steps outline the procedure for roadway abandonment:
  1. The applicant will submit a formal written request to the city planning department. The request should include a description of the roadway to be abandoned.
  2. The city planning department will coordinate with other city departments to identify any city utilities that would be affected by the abandonment.
  3. The city planning staff will cause a sign to be placed upon the right of way adjacent to the street to be abandoned advertising the time, date and place of a public hearing to consider the application for abandonment. The sign must be in place for at least fifteen (15) days prior to the public hearing.
  4. The city planning staff will advertise the abandonment hearing. Notice will be placed in the Bainbridge Post Searchlight for two consecutive weeks immediately prior to the public hearing.
  5. The applicant and adjacent property owners will be notified of the abandonment request and public hearing (including date, time, and place) via certified mail.
  6. The applicant and adjacent property owners will be notified via certified mail of any action taken by the Bainbridge City Council in regards to the application for abandonment.
4.0 Surplus Property Disposal

Upon the city council granting an application for road abandonment, the city will declare the roadway as surplus property and will begin the process of disposal as authorized under O.C.G.A 32-7-3. For purposes of this policy, surplus property is defined as real property owned by the City that has been determined to have no substantial public purpose.

Surplus property can be disposed of in various ways, including negotiated sale, sealed bids, auction, land swap, abandonment, or donation. In all cases, State law mandates that the City first offer the right to repurchase at fair market value to the previous owner or their successor in title. If the owner or successor does not purchase the property, it can be disposed of using any of the means of conveyance listed above. This conveyance is made subject to any easement of record and any legally permitted utility facilities. The transaction may also be subject to the retention of existing rights, easements for the support of drainage, or other title limitations.

4.1 Legal Compliance

The disposal of surplus property is governed by the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Title 32-7-3, Title 32-7-4, and Title 36-9-3; and by Federal Law through 23 CFR 710.403 and 710.409.
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