Entrance to Fort Mill school on private road needs repair: Who’s responsible?

Entrance to Fort Mill school on private road needs repair: Who’s responsible?

FORT MILL, S.C. — The only road leading to Sugar Creek Elementary School in Fort Mill is private and is marked with deep potholes. Parents of the students and residents, who live on the road, want it fixed.

Entrance to Fort Mill school on private road needs repair: Who?s responsible?

However, there's a question over who legally can and should make those repairs because it’s a private road.

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The state and York County can't spend tax dollars to repair Farmhouse Drive, because it’s a private road.

Developer and owner Earl Coulston is no stranger to the Fort Mill area.

His company developed most of the former PTL property where televangelist Jim Bakker once had his Christian theme park.

The city is now largely residential but also home to several businesses and schools as well.

Coulston's wife spoke to Channel 9 on Wednesday and said the Coulston family should not be responsible for the road for several reasons: They don't use it, and they aren't responsible for the damage.

Coulston said they allow the public to use Farmhouse Drive, even though they don't have to, and could shut it down completely to outside traffic.

Ruth Ramirez’s child a third-grader at Sugar Creek Elementary, and the mothers said something needs to be done about the dilapidated road.

"The road just continues to deteriorate, and the potholes are getting large," she said.

In spots, neighbors in the nearby Regal Manor community have to swerve, use the shoulder or cross lanes to dodge the potholes.

"You either go through them and risk doing damage to your car, which several neighbors have done, or you risk driving around them and possibly getting into a car accident," Ramirez said.

Coulston also said the Fort Mill school district was granted an easement when they bought the land for Sugar Creek Elementary School. The easement allowed the school to use the road, and it also gave them the responsibility of maintaining it.

However, no one at the school district was aware of such a document and officials sent Channel 9 the following statement:

"The district does not have ownership of Farmhouse Drive. Any questions regarding repairs to the road should be directed to the owner of the property."

In February 2018, Channel 9 reported that Coulston threatened to close another road he owns, Regent Parkway.

He put up signs saying the road was private after people started complaining about the condition of it. Coulston tried to get Lancaster County to take it over, but they didn't. He still owns it though it never officially closed to traffic.

Channel 9 spoke to Fort Mill state Rep. Raye Felder, R-York County, and she said she's digging for answers about the situation.

It’s not clear how the road can be fixed, or if the state can legally pressure the owner to make the repairs to farmhouse drive.

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