Fencing on county rights-of-way could lead to fines

Thayer County Department of Roads Supervisor Richard Heinrichs understands the installation of temporary fencing, especially for landowners with livestock. But sometimes the fences encroach on county rights-of-way or get too close to the roadway and that could spell trouble for both the landowner and the county. “Installing temporary fencing on county rights-of-way is a common practice throughout the state,” he said and added, “Landowners want to allow their cattle to graze the rights-of-way, but don’t realize the liability they are presenting to themselves and the county.”

Heinrichs says if county officials do nothing to remove the fences from the rights-of-way, they are opening up the county to possible lawsuits. “If there is an accident,” he gave as an example, “the county can be found negligent.” Landowners, too, can be fined for obstructing county property.

Currently the commissioners are trying to correct some of the fencing issues in Thayer County and the best way they’ve found is to notify the responsible party through certified mail or return receipt, the supervisor stated. In the letter, a legal description of the land where the fence is located indicates the problem area. Landowners have 10 days to remove or relocate the obstruction and failing to do so increases the risk of higher fines. For example, Heinrichs said, the fine after the 10-day period is $100 per day, up to $500. “Some landowners in the county have already received letters,” Heinrichs said.

According to state statute, temporary fencing laws are dictated in Chapter 39, page 301 of the Nebraska Laws text and state, any person who injures or obstructs a public road…by encroaching upon the same with any fence… will be guilty of a Class V misdemeanor. Any officer in charge of road work, after having given reasonable notice to the owners of the obstruction…may remove any such fence or other obstruction…and recover the necessary cost of such removal from [the] owner…in county court.

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