Found: do you own these roads?
LOST-and-found cases come to council attention from time to time but councillors on the Northern Rivers have been embroiled in an unusual mystery that began at the pub.
Ivy Street was a disused, overgrown road separating a 106-year-old pub from a house in the tiny town of Rappville, about 60 kilometres south-west of Lismore.
"Ivy Street is basically just grass,” said Richmond Valley Council Director of Infrastructure and Environment Angela Jones in late January, "we were going to close Ivy Street so the pub can use it.”
"We've been working with the owners to upgrade standards at the Rappville Pub,” she said.
"One of the issues is evacuation procedures and one suggestion was an external stair case that went onto an unformed section of Ivy Street.”
The road was on crown land, staff at Richmond Valley Council assumed, and could therefore be sold to the Rappville publicans.
But when staff tried to arrange the sale, they met with a road block: Ivy Street was not on crown land after all, it was on land once owned by W H Rapp.
Turned out another Rappville road thought to be on crown land was also probably owned by Mr Rapp: Nandabah Street, a bitumen road servicing the post office and pub and maintained by Council workers for more than a century.
Paperwork suggesting Mr Rapp's ownership was more than 108 years old and despite the possible significance of his name in the town's history, council staff were unaware of any descendants in the area.
Staff found a red-tape error in 1908 meant neither road was ever properly dedicated as a public road and both could technically still belong to Mr Rapp.
"Given that it has been 108 years since the registration... it is no longer likely to be possible to notify the original owner,” read council minutes from a December meeting.
"Section 17 of the Roads Act 1993 requires Council to notify the person who was the owner of Ivy and Nandabah Streets Rappville prior to 1 January 1920 of Council's intention to dedicate these streets as public road under Section 16 of the Roads Act 1993.”
Legally, the minutes read, "no compensation is payable to any person with respect to any loss or damage arising from the operation of this section”.
"It is therefore proposed to advertise Council's intention to dedicate Ivy and Nandabah Streets Rappville.”
Councillors voted unanimously to advertise the public dedication intention for 40 days.
"If no application is made by the owner to the Land and Environment Court within 40 days of that notification,” read the minutes, "a notice will be placed in the NSW Government Gazette dedicating the land as public road”.