MOULTONBOROUGH — Selectmen have scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, Aug. 21, to hear comments on the potential of the town continuing to plow some of the private roads in the community.
The hearing will be held in the Moultonborough Academy auditorium, starting at 6 p.m.
For many years the Town of Moultonborough has plowed and sanded most of the private roads in the town, prompting a long-standing question whether this practice is allowed by the state law which governs the use of public funds. Although the answer from many legal experts has been no, the practice has continued, according to statement released to media on Friday.
Under the direction of the Select Board, the Town Administrator Walter Johnson and Public Works Director Chris Theriault, are moving forward to comply with state law through the provisions of a state statue allows a Select Board to declare certain private roads as “Emergency Lanes.” Under the provisions of this law, “A town may raise and appropriate, and the selectmen may expend, money for the repair of any Class VI highway or private way which has been declared an emergency lane... including any work deemed necessary to render a road passable for firefighting equipment and rescue or other emergency vehicles...”
In addition to holding a public hearing the statute also requires a town mail notices all property owners known to have a legal interest in a private way 10 days prior to the hearing, and after hearing or receiving written testimony at the public hearing, the Select Board will consider each road for declaration. A provision of the statute does state “...the emergency lane shall not be declared if permission is denied by any person with a legal right to deny such permission.”
As a matter of procedure, the Board has grouped all the roads by name in alphabetical order in four categories that identify their public benefit beyond just benefiting those that live along said roads. Those categories are: Roads used as school bus routes, through roads that connect other roads to allow emergency vehicles accesses from two directions if necessary, dead-end roads that terminate at a lake or water source for firefighting and other dead-end roads that serve property which add value to the Town’s property tax base.
Due to the number of roads being proposed for emergency lane declaration, the Select Board is asking public hearing attendees to limit their comments at the hearing to a very brief statement either in support or against the declaration for their road, or submit their comments in writing before or during the public hearing. Each person will be allowed up to one minute of time for comments.
The Private Road Classification Inventory is posted on the Town’s website, (www.moultonboroughnh.gov, click on Departments, Highway then Private Roads Classification Inventory. A copy of the full list is also available upon request at Town Hall, and will be posted on the Town Hall bulletin board.