Plantation Road

The issue of whether the city should accept unpaved Plantation Road, shown above, and neighboring Colonial Drive, in Weirs Beach, is on the agenda for Monday's Laconia City Council meeting. (Michael Mortensen/Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — Residents in a Weirs Beach subdivision are waiting to see if the city will continue to maintain the streets in their neighborhood.

The City Council is scheduled to take up the matter Monday when it decides whether to accept Plantation Road and Colonial Drive as city streets even though they do not meet the city’s standards for public roads.

While there is no formal recommendation on the memo submitted to councilors, City Manager Scott Myers said Friday that if he is asked during the meeting he will advise that the streets not be accepted.

Myers said he shared that opinion when he and Public Works Director Wes Anderson, together with City Councilors Bruce Cheney and Tony Felch, met with more than 40 residents of the neighborhood two weeks ago to discuss options on what can be done with the streets.

Myers said he opposes the city accepting the substandard streets because the present ownership of the streets is clear, and also because if the city formally took over the streets now the city would be liable for the costs to make any necessary improvements going forward.

Myers said the federal Environmental Protection Agency will in the coming year be inspecting the city’s stormwater system to make sure it meets regulatory standards. Since Plantation Road and Colonial Drive — both unpaved — have no storm drains, the city would have to pay to install the necessary infrastructure if it owned the street.

The cost to install a stormwater system is estimated at “several million dollars,” Myers said.

Right now Plantation Road in particular is susceptible to erosion during heavy rainstorms, Myers said.

Another option available, Myers explained, would be to have the cost of the street improvements funded under a so-called betterment procedure, with the cost divided between the city and residents who would pay their share of the costs over time.

Should the council vote against accepting the streets, the city could vote to have them declared emergency ways which would allow the city to perform basic maintenance so emergency vehicles could use them safely.

The two streets are part of a subdivision which was created in the late 1950s, and is shown on a plan filed in the Belknap County Registry of Deeds and dated 1959, Anderson said. In the mid-1970s the city Planning Board found the project was not being developed in accordance with city regulations and forbade the developer from selling any more lots, he said.

The city has been plowing and sanding the street during the winter since 1977 when the council informally directed the DPW to plow private streets that had year-round residents.

The city says that arrangement is contrary to a state law that prohibits using public funds to maintain private roads.

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