When we use the word "vacation" in terms of a public road, it means the right "to abandon" or "to give up" the public's right to use the road or road right-of-way for transportation. Sometimes there are good reasons to "vacate" a road. For example, a road or right-of-way that is no longer needed for public use could be vacated if it interferes with a property owner's use of the land (for building a fence, a house, etc...).
If the road isn't needed, why was it ever made?
Many roads that have been vacated were created by land divisions or other legal documents almost 100 years ago. Land use laws at that time did not require subdivision roads to be built as they are today. In some areas, the land was not developed exactly as depicted on subdivision maps. As a result, roads that were thought to be necessary are not needed today.
What is required to vacate a road?
State laws regulate how roads get vacated. Basically, the process works like this: Owners of property abutting an unused public road contact the Josephine County Public Works Department to discuss whether a road may be vacated. Public Works may prepare a petition that describes the land affected by the proposed vacation. Adjacent landowners must sign the petition before it's brought to the County Commissioners. State law requires the Public Works Department to report to the County Commissioners about how the proposed vacation would affect surrounding properties. The Commissioners decide whether to vacate the road.
What happens to the public's right to use a road that's vacated?
People and vehicles can no longer travel on a road that's been vacated. The land that used to be the right-of-way generally gets added to the land parcels that abutted the road. Property lines generally are extended to the center of where the road used to be, and each parcel's size increase will be reflected on county records.
Who pays for vacating roads?
Property owners who benefit from the vacation have to pay the fees. They may, however, decide among themselves how to divide the costs.