Poland selectmen refer subdivision’s request to Planning Board

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POLAND — Selectmen on Tuesday turned down a request to put the acceptance of Wedgewood Circle as a town road before town meeting voters.

Two months ago, Brian Merrill, developer of the Wedgewood Estates subdivision, and subdivision residents made their initial request that Wedgewood Circle go before voters for acceptance despite the fact that the Planning Board and Code Enforcement Officer Nick Adams ruled that the road was not constructed to specifications found in the town’s comprehensive land-use code.

The main sticking point was that the cul-de-sac on Wedgewood Circle was smaller than called for in the ordinance.

Merrill argued that the Planning Board, in the review process, had waived certain requirements because of the unique nature of the subdivision and did so with full knowledge that the intent was that roads in the subdivision eventually would be accepted as town roads.

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Three weeks ago, the matter of whether the town’s plow trucks and emergency vehicles could negotiate the cul-de-sac came up. Selectmen directed Town Manager Bradley Plante to have Public Works Director Tom Learned and fire Chief Mark Bosse take their equipment to Wedgewood Circle to determine the extent of the problem.

On Wednesday, Nov. 24, traffic cones were set up on Wedgewood Circle to represent the position of snowbanks as they saw what the fire department’s Engine 3 and one of Public Works’ standard plow trucks had to do to get around the cul-de-sac.

A video of the experiment was shown at last night’s selectmen meeting. It clearly showed that it took some doing for both vehicles to function in the limited area.

Engine 3, with a fireman helping direct the driver, had to stop and back up twice before making it around the circle. It took the plow truck at least half a dozen stops, reverses and make-believe pushes of the plow to make it around.

Presented with visual evidence that the specifications contained in the ordinance were there for good reason, selectmen said the matter was something the developer and residents would have to iron out with the Planning Board and that they couldn’t put the matter to a town meeting vote.

Selectman James Walker recounted his experience plowing for the town in the 1970s and how near impossible it was to handle Birch Drive. The road, Walker noted, had been built before the town had any real regulation on how roads ought to be built. It was so difficult that the town plow couldn’t get down there, Walker said, and kids living on the road had to walk to Route 26 to get the school bus.

“The town passed a road ordinance after that,” Walker said. “We would be opening up a can of worms if we accept something that isn’t up to code.”

Selectmen suggested the developer and subdivision residents work with the Planning Board to see whether their plans could be altered to meet specifications of the ordinance.

After the selectmen’s vote denying the request to place Wedgewood Circle before town meeting voters, Plante told residents that one of the articles on the warrant for the special town meeting scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 6, seeks to amend a portion of the land-use code that might offer another option to solve the problems in how Wedgewood Circle is constructed.

The amendment would allow for hammer-head turnarounds and, while it appears enlarging the diameter of the cul-de-sac in the established subdivision would be very disruptive, a hammer-head turnaround might work more easily.

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