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Creation of Municipal Streets

Reference Number: MTAS-663
Reviewed Date: 04/04/2023

Broad Municipal Discretion
Generally, property owners have little legal voice in the location, establishment, construction, and abandonment of city streets, and the courts will not interfere with municipal decisions in those areas absent fraud or a clear abuse of discretion [Georgia v. Chattanooga, 4 Tenn. App. 674 (1927); Brimer v. Municipality of Jefferson City, 216 S.W.2d 1 (1948); Swafford v. City of Chattanooga, 743 S.W.2d 174 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1987); W. G. Wilkins v. Chicago, St. Louis & New Orleans Railroad Co., 110 Tenn. 423 (1903); Sweetwater Valley Memorial Park v. City of Sweetwater, 372 S.W.2d 168 (1963); Cash & Carry Lumber Company, Inc. v. Olgiati, 385 S.W.2d 115 (1964)].

It has also been held that municipalities have the discretion as to what forms of public travel are permissible within a right-of-way. In Blackburn v. Dillon, 225 S.W.2d 46 (Tenn. 1946), the width of the right-of-way easement was clearly 40 feet, but the city had the discretion within that easement to determine what forms of public travel were allowed (in this case a sidewalk).