Bray Hill property owners dispute driveway permits

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PHILLIPS — Property owners Mark and Margaret Cosenza challenged selectmen about the recent approval of driveway permits for abutting property owners.

They said the town has only a right of way over a discontinued road that is now part of their property on Bray Hill.

“We’re impacted by it, and we’ve got no business being impacted by it,” Margaret Cosenza said.

She said other property owners have obtained the town’s permission to build a driveway that would allow them to travel on this discontinued road. She presented selectmen with a letter from the Cosenzas’ attorney, summarizing their property rights. The town does not own the property, she said, and the town did not have the right to allow the other property owners to travel on it. The previous owner sold land that had only a 100-foot easement for the town, she said, which is not the same as town ownership.

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“It’s become our problem, because the town got involved,” she told selectmen Tuesday night. “Everything northerly of the southern edge is ours.”

The town does not own that four-tenths of a mile on Bray Hill, as selectmen meeting minutes from Sept. 23 were written, and she requested that they correct the information.

Road Commissioner Ward Bredeau said as long as the existing right of way met the town’s boundary line, he was allowed to issue permits to the other property owners. Cosenza said the problem was a civil issue and should be settled by the new property owners and the person(s) who sold them the property.

“We didn’t sell the land to either of these people,” Cosenza said.

Selectmen agreed to request legal counsel to review the issue.

In other business: 

* Town Manager Elaine Hubbard said she has publicized bid notices for a Public Works truck and other equipment the town wants to sell.

Viewing day will be Nov. 4 and bids must be turned in by 4 p.m. on Nov. 12, she said. Bids will be opened at the selectmen meeting that night.

* The board reviewed current progress on road work and culvert replacement at the intersection of Reeds Mill and Toothaker Pond roads. The three sections of old culvert at Bragg’s Corner have deteriorated, allowing water to seep out and erode the gravel and asphalt around it, according to Road Commissioner Ward Bredeau. He said he has worked around heavy rainstorms and spring runoff to keep the road passable. The culvert is 200 yards from the Sandy River and a nearby spring feeds into a stream. The water source and heavy spring rains keep the road wet. The town is required to protect the nearby spring-fed Warm Stream because Atlantic salmon have used it for spawning.

Bredeau and Hubbard met with Jeremy Bell, aquatic habitat restoration manager for the Nature Conservancy and the Atlantic Salmon Federation for help with design of the new culvert. Bredeau expressed frustration with drivers. Although he has shut down and barricaded both ends of the roads, people have ignored the sign instead of taking the detour. He’s encountered other problems that have stymied his construction efforts.

“Someone stole our East Madrid Road sign,” Bredeau said.

Hubbard said she had some good news to share about the project. The Nature Conservancy has awarded the town a $20,000 grant to offset construction costs, she said.

* Selectmen announced their next meeting would be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, rather than Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.

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