LIVERMORE — Residents along five roads will continue to have town plowing services, after it was confirmed they are either public ways or have easements.

More than 40 residents attended a meeting Monday night to give their opinions on the March 7 decision by the Board of Selectpersons to stop plowing certain roads because of legal ramifications.

The board voted 4-1 on March 7 to immediately discontinue winter maintenance on Wyman, McKenna, Dixon, Bryant, Cozy Cove, Toncer and Brewster roads, and a section of Richmond Hill Road because their status was not known. 

State law prohibits using public money to plow private roads.

Gould announced Monday that further research and information provided by residents show that some of the roads are actually public or easement roads. Bryant, Brewster and Toncer roads are the only ones now considered private. If documentation is found showing they have easements or are public ways, the town will resume plowing them, he said. 

Complicating the issue is the fact that some roads are known by more than one name, so studying the deeds is necessary.

Also on March 7, the board voted to stop winter maintenance on three easement roads due to lack of documentation:

• Nelson Road, which is also known as Nelson Pond Road;

• Marcus Street; and

• Keith Street.

With documentation now provided, the board on Monday voted to rescind that action. 

Peter Coughlan, director of the Community Services Division of the Maine Department of Transportation, advised selectpersons two weeks ago that it’s against the law to use public funds on private roads. He advised getting legal advice from the Maine Municipal Association.

On Monday, Gould said MMA advised that the town and its road employees could be liable for property damage or personal injury incurred while plowing private roads. 

Gould said he has begun a road inventory, which MMA recommends to be in writing and have reference dates, in order to prevent future selectpersons from having to revisit the issue. 

“It is a work in progress,” Gould said. “It may have some errors on it.” 

One resident said the town has been plowing Bryant Road for more than 65 years and it isn’t right to stop doing so. Others thought the road should be grandfathered.

Selectperson Megan Dion said there is no documentation for the road.

“We’re here to consider the best interests of the town,” she said.

One person asked if the decision was an effort to save money, as had been suggested around town.

“Absolutely not,” Gould said. “It was to protect the town.” 

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