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Resolution 2016-15, Road Tracts & Certificates of Survey as County Roads

It is the intent of the Montana Association of Counties to seek legislation to allow counties to declare a road depicted and shown on a Certificate of Survey or Plat as a County Road.

WHEREAS, many plats and certificates of surveys prior to the enactment of the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act in 1973 depicted 60 foot wide “parcels” (road tracts) with parallel lines that appear to be creating road right-of-way; and

WHEREAS, other plats and certificates of survey depicted 60 foot wide easements, but did not designate whether the easement was public or private and did not grant the easement in favor of any specific party or entity; and

WHEREAS, without designation of these road tracts or easements to the public, many property owners and developers of the properties along the parcels or easements are denied access to their properties and orderly development of the property is stymied; and

WHEREAS, these depicted but undedicated or undesignated tract have become “orphan tracts” where ownership is unclear or cannot be determined; and

WHEREAS, currently, the only way to turn these road tracts and easements into public use rights is to either file a declaratory judgment action or to follow the petition process in statute to declare these depicted road tracts as a county road, both expensive and time consuming procedures; and

WHEREAS, many counties are hesitant to create a petitioned county road that is not built to standard, does not have a funding mechanism for maintenance, and may be subject to condemnation damages and many developers are hesitant to immediately build a road to standard but do desire to explore maintenance in the future; and

WHEREAS, some of these road tracts and easements are currently used by residents along these “roads” and when they attempt to sell their property have problems getting titles insured because access to the parcels are not legally established and cannot be legally established except through time-consuming and expensive litigation; and

WHEREAS, MCA § 7-14-2101 provides that boards of county commissioners have the authority to lay out, maintain, control, and manage county roads and bridges within the county.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Association of Counties will seek to establish legislation to clarify the law by expressly authorizing a board of county commissioners to create county roads on undesignated but depicted county road tracts shown on plats and certificates of survey.


SPONSOR:  Yellowstone County
REFERRED TO: MACo Transportation Committee; and MACo Land Use, Planning & Development Committee
ADOPTED:  Annual Conference, Billings, MT, September 21, 2016