Street with no houses on it (yet) accepted as town road

GILFORD — After getting off to a rocky start two weeks ago, the company which created a subdivision off Cotton Hill Road got its roadway formally accepted as a town road last night.

Blue Sky Enterprises President Karen Feltham explained to selectmen that the lots off Rowe Farm Road are now in "current use" and will generate land use change tax income for the town as that status is changed. Even though none of the sold ave been sold as of yet, Blue Sky wanted the town to accept the road as a Class V street so it would make them easier to sell.

When Feltham's business partner Howard Warren asked for the same thing at a previous meeting, selectmen got testy when he mentioned that he would take the town to court if they didn't accept the road.

Feltham made no such claims last night. Instead, she explained to the selectmen that there is an inconsistency in the town's ordinances regarding the definitions of private ways verses public streets.

"As a technical matter, there is a zoning issue if you don't take the road," she said.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn had recommended Blue Sky sell at least three lots before the town accepts the road because there is no public need to plow a road with no houses and town ordinances allow as many as two houses to be built on a private road.

Feltham explained that with the entire parcel under current use, the town gets no real tax revenue. Each lot that sells will generate $8,000 in current use penalty, plus an annual property tax bill. When houses are built, Feltham said the town will get even more tax revenue.

Feltham suggested a compromise in that Blue Sky would plow the road for this winter as long as selectmen agree to a date certain to accept the road, which she said will make it easier to sell the lots.

"I understand the town doesn't want to plow a road with no houses," she said, telling selectmen that she has one lot under contract and another with a right of first refusal.

At first, Selectmen John O'Brien and Gun Benavides moved and seconded her compromise proposal but Selectman Chair Kevin Hayes — who was not at the first meeting with Blue Sky and who is the board's representative to the Planning Board — said he wanted to accept it now as opposed to the spring.

He noted the road wasn't very long and would simply be incorporated into a plow driver's route during a snow storm. "In the big spoke of things, it won't cost us much," Hayes said.

"I want the town to take the road now," Hayes said. "It's the right thing to do."

Agreeing with him was Department of Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan, who said the road was built perfectly, the driveway cuts have been preplanned with his assistance and he would like to have control over the road so he knows it is being maintained properly. Sheldon also said the town would get a little more state highway money if it accepts it as public.

After listening to all sides, selectmen made their vote unanimous to accept the road as a town street last night.

In other business, selectmen also announced that the town will get $18,222 in Federal Disaster Aid for a snow storm last March.

In addition, the United States Tennis Association gave the town a $1,320 grant to be applied toward resurfacing the tennis courts. Selectmen accepted the gift and reworked their previous approval of the resurfacing to reflect the grant.

CAPTION - Rowe Farm Road is at the heart of new subdivison off Cotton Hill Road in Gilford. This photo is taken from the center of the cul-de-sac facing Cotton Hill Road. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)