Friday, October 19, 2001
Tall Pines roads inch toward acceptance
What rules should apply for accepting a road that doesn't strictly conform to regulations, or for agreeing to plow a road that has not yet been accepted? Should the rules be bent in special circumstances? These were the questions the selectmen wrestled with on October 9 as they reviewed a recommendation by the planning board that three roads in the Tall Pines subdivision Kimball Road, Hutchins Road and Barnes Place be accepted contingent on corrections to existing violations of the town's right-of-way. These violations included mailboxes, stone walls, and masonry pillars placed too close to the road at several addresses. A roomful of Tall Pines residents attended the meeting to provide information and indicate support for town acceptance of the roads.
The town's right-of-way, which by law measures 25 feet from the center of the road, ensures access for fire, police, school bus, and plowing vehicles and maximizes traffic safety. A lack of granite lot-line markers which should have been put in place by the developer contributed to a situation in which many Tall Pines residents misjudged the boundaries of their properties and erected structures in the right-of-way. A site visit on October 3 which included police chief Dave Galvin and DPW superintendent Gary Davis determined that most structures in the right-of-way were not impediments to town operations or traffic flow. The exceptions were several mailboxes, which the owners agreed to move, and a stone wall at 216 Hutchins Road within ten feet of the roadway, constructed of loose stones that could be dislodged and cause a hazard. The owner of 216 Hutchins, John Cao, admitted he had only owned the home for five weeks and had not been aware of the problem with the stone wall. "I will move or remove it," he promised, "but I don't know when I can do it."
Selectman Vivian Chaput raised the possibility of securing an agreement to remove the violating structures with a bond or other collateral. After some discussion, a motion was made to schedule a public hearing for October 30 to review the road layout and to reach agreement on a Warrant article for acceptance of the roads to be presented at Town Meeting on November 27.
Plowing policy perused
The discussion then turned to a request to plow the roads in question. Reference was made to a "plowing policy" which, according to chairman John Ballantine, was developed by the selectmen to provide consistency in who gets plowed, but "has been inconsistently implemented." According to this document, subdivision roads can be plowed if they can be accepted within one year. It was agreed that the three roads in question would be plowed this winter, subject to acceptance at Town Meeting. In addition, the selectmen will ask for a listing of private ways currently plowed by the DPW to assure consistency with the plowing policy.
Addressing the Tall Pines residents present, selectman Tim Hult emphasized, "You have made a commitment to the town, and deserve town services like [school] bus pickup and plowing." Referring to "negative commentary" about the neighborhood that had appeared in letters to the Mosquito, he added, "You're a valuable part of the community, welcome, and we want you to have your road."
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito