Franklin Countys First News

Commissioners ponder discontinuing roads

Left to right is Commissioner Terry Brann of Wilton, Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington and Commissioner Clyde Barker of Strong.

FARMINGTON - County commissioners discussed the results of their recent tour of Unorganized Territory roads Tuesday, including the possibility of discontinuing four roads for summer and winter maintenance.

The commissioners' tour of U.T. roads with County Road Agent Jerry Haines is an annual spring event, allowing the board to review some of the issues facing U.T. bridges and roads. This year, commissioners identified four roads as possible targets for county maintenance discontinuance, given their relatively short lengths and low occupancy.

The four roads in question are the Huntington Road, Schoolhouse Road and the Dodge Road in Madrid Township and the Curtis Road in Freeman Township.

There is also a fifth road being considered by commissioners. That road is in Washington Township, consisting of a dozen feet of roadway and a bridge which connects to a private drive. That road's name wasn't known Tuesday morning.

Most of the roads appeared to provide access for only one full-time residence, Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington noted, and all of them were relatively short and dead-ended. Webster suggested the roads were more akin to private driveways and the county shouldn't be paying to maintain them in the summer and plow them in the winter.

Discontinuing the roads would require a public hearing. County Clerk Julie Magoon said she would research the procedure and get back to the commissioners. The county would need to make a decision in regards to winter maintenance before fall.

The commissioners also reviewed the county's garage in Madrid Township near the sand pit. The county acquired the building in 2000, when the town of Madrid disincorporated. It had significant roof issues as well as possible rot in the walls, commissioner said. Haines is seeking an estimate to fix the structure, after which point it is likely the commissioners will put the work out to bid.

Three bridges in the U.T. need work as well, Haines said, citing locations in East Madrid, Washington and Salem Townships. The wooden bridges need new tops and Haines is recommending replacing the wood with concrete.

Commissioners are also looking into illegal dumping sites and junkyards off a number of U.T. roads. In some cases, Magoon said, the sites were in violation of the law and were an issue for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. Others were an issue for the Land Use Planning Commission, the state planning office for the U.T.

In other, road-related business, the commissioners tabled any action in regards to the New Vineyard Lowell Road. Resident Cecile Lowell had filed a petition with the county regarding the Lowell Road, which she said had not been properly maintained this last winter.

The issue, Selectman Jeff Allen said, was that the town's right-of-way was believed to only extend to a preexisting garage belonging to a third party. As a result, the town did not have enough space to legally create a turnaround, forcing the town's contracted plow to back up into Route 27, which was a safety issue.

"We can't safely plow the road," Allen said. He suggested the board could take the issue to New Vineyard residents at a town meeting, ending winter maintenance and potentially continuing summer maintenance.

Commissioners agreed with that approach, indicating the issue should be solved by New Vineyard town residents. They voted to table any action by the county.

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20 Responses »

  1. It seems unfair to leave it up to the residents to maintain a road when the town or county has always done it. That's a huge expense for an individual or a family to have thrust upon them.

  2. That's what they do didn't you know that's why we pay taxes

  3. There's a bill being discussed regarding this topic on sugusta tomorrow, Wednesday May 17th:
    If you think rights and responsibilities should go hand in hand,
    •if you think public use of a road in the absence of public maintenance destroys access, or
    •if you think it’s not right to land lock a piece of land by discontinuing a road,

    This Wednesday at 1:30, there will be a public hearing on L.D. 1588, “An Act to Maintain Mail Routes and Access to Residential Structures.”

    The Summary of the bill reads, “This bill prohibits a municipality from discontinuing a road on which there is a residential structure that depends upon the road for its sole access, and requires the municipality to plow snow from that road and keep it passable. The bill allows for the rebuttal of the presumption of abandonment of a public way if there is a residential structure that depends on the way for its sole access. The bill requires municipalities to maintain mail routes in accordance with United States Postal Service regulations.”

  4. I sent in my testimony for this bill and I'm for it someone has to give the town's seem to do what they want and no one can stop them they need to pass this bill. Maine wounders why people are leaving no one wants to buy a home that the town can close there only way into their homes

  5. Public hearings always seem to happen when the the majority of the public are at work. I wish I had known about this previously. I hope that the bill is passed.

    It really troubling that folks are being hung out to dry in this way. I'm not surprised, though, with the "slash and burn" mentality of the county commissioners.

  6. It seems to me that a "road" with only one residence should be considered a driveway. Thus, they should not be maintained with municipal funds. I am responsible for plowing my driveway. Why should someone else get special treatment just because the town has "always plowed it"?

  7. I'm with B.J.

  8. It completely affects property value for these individuals and may be beyond their control. I'm not willing to hang my neighbors out to dry to save $1 a year.

  9. Does the town own the road that this resident lives on? if so the town should plow it if not deed the property over to the owner of the one house on this road. They pay taxes too! I wouldn't call it "special treatment" if the town owns the road. Do you own your driveway B.J.? If so then you should plow it.

  10. What happens if the homeowner needs emergency services and the ambulance or police can't access the (homeowner maintained) driveway because the commissioners decided, site unseen, that the road wasn't important to them? I lived on a dead end dirt road and it really stunk when the town tried to save a few bucks by hiring a local with a little red truck to plow the road during the winter. I think she got stuck and gave up and all the while the working residents lost out for the winter. The big trucks took over the next winter. This seems like is a matter of maintaining basic access for taxpayers. Perhaps the commissioners could do a site visit to get a better idea of what they are doing and then back to the comfy chairs to decide the affect this will have.. . eh?

  11. I agree with BR and anon. When these people settled in those homes they were counting on road maintenance services. It would be different if the commissioners proposed this where there were no residents on the road. Maybe those are the roads they should be looking at. The commissioners seem to be having trouble with the needs of the people in Franklin County lately. What's up?

  12. There seems to be a LOAD of people who think the rest of us should give them whatever they want for FREE!

  13. Thought that when a road id DC'd the land goes back to the property owner from the center line of the road to who ever owns the surounding property so if you own both sides of the street you will have the whole thing.. could be wrong ???? any way the town might have to foot the bill for some suveying and deed work at the least

  14. The road i live on the town does owen and always has. I dont owen land on either side of it, my driveway starts at the end of the town if it's closed it and it reverts back to the land owner's i have no way in or out.

  15. Arnold P. - it's not for FREE, they PAY TAXES as homeowners, and should be getting the same services that the rest of us benefit from.

  16. Aronld p. It's not free i pay taxes also so im not asking for something for free and a town rd is the towns. Responsibility to take care of it they have been plowing for 41 years it there rd not mine

  17. Cecile,I think you should be talking directly with the county commissioners and not wasting your time on this blog.Your case may warrant more review by people who have more info than the Bulldog group.

  18. @ Cecile: If you had explained about not owning property on either side of the road in the first place, I'm sure you would have received more support or at least sympathy. The article says the town has a "Right of Way to plow the road", which means they DON'T own the road. If YOU don't have a Right of Way, you have no LEGAL right of access regardless already, except to the end of the town's Right of Way. You don't mention whether you HAVE a Right of Way to your property, or any discussions with the people who DO own the land, perhaps they would deed you a Right-of-Way or sell you one at low cost if you don't so that you were guaranteed access to your property, and could have the road plowed (written permission for that would be a good idea as well.) It appears you don't want to do that, or feel you can't afford to, that you feel the town should have to plow/maintain the road as long as you want them to or forever (not likely.) On the other hand, Mr. Allen's statement that "the town did not have enough space to legally create a turnaround, forcing the town's contracted plow to back up into Route 27, which was a safety issue." sounds like an excuse for doing what they want to do, since he doesn't indicate any effort to buy or get a Right of Way TO create a turnaround. I assume the town DOES have a LEGAL right to discontinue a Right of Way on property they don't own, and that the Selectpersons/Commissioners have legal authority to make those decisions on behalf of the town. The voters have the right to kick those people out if they don't like what they do/don't do. Perhaps the town could stop plowing, but keep the Right of Way intact to at least allow you access if you don't have a ROW. I agree with TE, you should try to resolve this amicably with the Commissioners and/or your neighbor property owners. May the proper resolution happen.

  19. The town does own the rd

  20. The knows they own it and they always have owned it thats way when they have there meeting i will be THERE to make sure the towns people know it state and town maps dont lie