MEREDITH — At the request of eight of the 10 property owners on Maple Ridge Road, the Board of Selectmen this week delineated a village district to improve and main the road and scheduled its first meeting for Monday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m.
In New Hampshire, village districts may be formed upon petition by 10 or more voters to serve a variety of purposes, including constructing, improving and maintaining roads. Village districts have the authority to raise property taxes sufficient to accomplish their designated purposes and are governed by commissioners, akin to selectmen, chosen by voters at annual meetings.
Once a petition is presented, the Board of Selectmen is bound to define the boundaries of the village district and convene a meeting of the eligible voters to vote for or against establishing it.
Maple Ridge Road, a steep, winding graveled track about a half-mile long that ends some 750 feet above the western shore of Lake Winnisquam. The subdivision was approved in 1978, but until the Maple Ridge Association was formed two years ago, there was no collective effort to budget for the maintenance of the road.
The selectmen defined the village district to include all 10 lots on Maple Ridge Road, including those owned by the two property owners who declined to sign the petition. They and anyone who purchases a lot within the district will be liable to the property tax levied by the district for the upkeep of the road.
David Desmarais told the selectboard that forming a village district, with the sole purpose of maintaining the road and authority to raise and appropriate funds, would ensure sufficient resources "year in and year out" to plow, sand, grade, gravel and ditch the road. He said that the residents understood that an improved road would enhance the value of their property, as well as benefit the town by providing safe access for emergency vehicles. Moreover, village districts qualify for federal disaster assistance administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Although Maple Ridge Road has suffered several washouts, so far it has been spared a catastrophic event.
Desmarais estimated the cost of constructing the road to town standards at $135,000.