By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MOULTONBOROUGH — No more plowing local roads. That's the advice of legal counsel to Moultonborough selectmen, at least until insurance concerns are ironed out.
Selectmen were told that Policy No. 1, which prescribes that the town will plow and sand private roads, is contrary to state law, which prohibits applying public funds to the maintenance of private roadways. There are about 200 miles of private roads, representing more than half the roads, in the town.
According to the minutes of the meeting of the board on Feb. 16, Chairman Chris Shipp said that the attorney's opinion squares with that of the city attorney for Laconia, and that the two municipalities, together with the legal staff of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, are weighing "the possibility of seeking the creation of new legislation that may permit the use of funds for such a purpose under certain circumstances."
On learning of the opinion of legal counsel, Eric Taussig, an attorney who has followed the issue in Moultonborough closely, put nearly a dozen questions, including whether plowing and emergency services would be curtailed, to the selectboard. He received no assurance that the town would plow and sand private roads next winter and was told that if plowing and sanding were eliminated, emergency services would be provided "whoever conditions allow."
Taussig described the responses as "sparse" and "unsatisfactory." He said that that if services are withdrawn, residents and property owners could find their ability to secure mortgage financing and and property insurance affected. Likewise, if emergency services are curtailed, Taussig suggested that the assessed valuation of most waterfront property, which represents a significant share of the tax base, would be reduced.
Mayor Ed Engler of Laconia said Monday that the city attorney has been working with a group of municipal attorneys to develop a legislative solution to address the issue of private roads. There are some 40 streets in the city, stretching for 7 miles, for which there is no documentation confirming their formal acceptance as public highways, without which Primex, the city's property, casualty and liability insurance carrier, considers them private roads. By plowing and maintaining these streets, Primex warns the city is forfeiting its coverage for any property damage or personal injury arising from its presence on them. Engler said he expects the city attorney to report to city officials by April 1.
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 803