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(A) Any person petitioning the Town Council for permanent closing of a public street or alley must pay a non-refundable fee of $500.
(B) If Town Council determines to consider the proposed street or alley closure, it shall first adopt a resolution declaring its intent to close the street or alley and calling a public hearing on the question. The resolution shall be published once a week for four successive weeks prior to the hearing, a copy thereof shall be sent by registered or certified mail to all owners of property adjoining the street or alley as shown on the county tax records, and a notice of the closing and public hearing shall be prominently posted in at least two places along the street or alley. If the street or alley is under the authority and control of the Department of Transportation, a copy of the resolution shall be mailed to the Department of Transportation.
(C) At the public hearing, any person may be heard on the possible street or alley closure. If it appears to the satisfaction of Town Council after the hearing that closing the street or alley is not contrary to the public interest, and that no person owning property in the vicinity of the street or alley or in the subdivision in which it is located would thereby be deprived of reasonable means of ingress and egress to that person's property, the Council may adopt an order closing the street or alley. A certified copy of the order shall be filed in the office of the Watauga County Register of Deeds.
(D) Upon the closing of a street or alley in accordance with this section, subject to the provisions of divisions (G) and (H) of this section, all right, title, and interest in the right-of-way shall be conclusively presumed to be vested in those persons owning lots or parcels of land adjacent to the street or alley, and the title of such adjoining landowners, for the width of the abutting land owned by them, shall extend to the centerline of the street or alley. However, the provisions of this division may be altered as to a particular street or alley closing by the assent of all such adjoining landowners taking title to a closed street or alley by the filing of a plat which shows the street or alley closing and the portion of the closed street or alley to be taken by each owner. The plat shall be signed by all adjoining landowners who, under the first sentence of this section, has an ownership right in the closed street or alley.
(E) This section shall apply to any street or public alley within the town that has been irrevocably dedicated to the public, without regard to whether it has actually been opened. This section also applies to unopened streets or public alleys that are shown on plats but that have not been accepted or maintained by the town, provided that this section shall not abrogate the rights of a dedicator, or those claiming under a dedicator, pursuant to G.S. 136-96.
(F) No street or alley under the control of the Department of Transportation may be closed unless the Department of Transportation consents thereto.
(G) The town may reserve a right, title, and interest in any improvements or easements within a street closed pursuant to this section. An easement under this subsection shall include utility, drainage, pedestrian, landscaping, conservation, or other easements considered by the town to be in the public interest. The reservation of an easement under this subsection shall be stated in the order of closing. The reservation also extends to utility improvements or easements owned by private utilities which at the time of the street closing have a utility agreement or franchise with the town.
(H) The town may retain utility easements, both public and private, in cases of streets withdrawn under G.S. 136-96. To retain such easements, the Town Council shall, after public hearing, approve a “declaration of retention of utility easements” specifically describing such easements. Notice by certified or registered mail shall be provided to the party withdrawing the street from dedication under G.S. 136-96 at least five days prior to the hearing. The declaration must be passed prior to filing of any plat or map or declaration of withdrawal with the register of deeds. Any property owner filing such plats, maps, or declarations shall include the town's declaration with the declaration of withdrawal and shall show the utilities retained on any map or plat showing the withdrawal.
(Ord. passed 9-17-2019)