PARIS — Ruling against petitioners Wednesday, the Oxford County Commission said Kezar Lake Road in Stow was safe and convenient when it inspected the 1.1-mile stretch of gravel road last month.

Residents along the road did receive a partial victory when the commissioners also ruled that the “safe and convenient” standard did not exist when the petition was filed with the county in September 2020. The town will be required to pay the county $3,000 for the cost of the hearing.

Residents who have to travel on the road complained to the commission that the town had neglected to maintain the road year-round and its infrequent fixes were merely band-aids that would last a month or two. They complained about gravel being dumped on top of pavement, large potholes, washboarding, rocks and a culvert protruding through the road, the lack of crowning, improper ditching, false shoulders, standing water in the road and issues with dust.

Town officials argued the road was safe and convenient when commissioners inspected the road on May 21 and plans for major work on that stretch of road later this year would address many of the complaints.

Officials said according to state law, commissioners could only consider the condition of the road on the day of the hearing and on the day the petition was filed with the county. If the residents proved that the road was unsafe last September, the only thing commissioners could do was to rule that the town must reimburse the county for the cost of the hearing.

Town workers repaired the road two weeks before the inspection.


Last month, Commissioners Timothy Turner of Buckfield, Steven Merrill of Norway and David Duguay of Byron drove on and inspected the disputed 1.1-mile section from the Stow-Fryeburg town line to Pigeon Hill Road. Afterward, they held a four-hour hearing at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds.

Commissioners heard closing arguments Wednesday before deliberating and issuing their decision. All three agreed that the road was safe and convenient during their inspection last month.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the road after hearing what the condition was like,” Merrill said. “But to this untrained eye I saw there were potential problems.”

Merrill pointed to the rocks sticking out of the road, the false shoulders and a culvert that was partially blocked.

Duguay saw dust as the biggest issue when he drove along the road. He suggested officials mix in some calcium with the gravel to lessen the problem. He added that he would have liked to see a traffic count on how many vehicles use the road.

As a former state trooper, Turner said he’s driven fast on these type of back roads for years.


“I really thought that the road will not last that long,” Turner said. “But if we go by the statute, they need to be addressed, but on the day of the inspection it was safe and convenient.”

Turner did not agree that the road was safe when the petition was filed last September.

Merrill agreed.

The vote to charge Stow a$3,000 for the hearing was 2-0-1, with Duguay abstaining.

In other business, commissioners accepted a bid from Norway Savings Bank to borrow up to $2.5 million in tax anticipation notes for the 2021 fiscal year with an interest rate of 0.80% .

The board also approved using funds from the drug forfeiture account to allow the Sheriff’s Office to purchase a copy machine for its office in Dixfield, a manpower study to look at the department’s needs in the future, the development of a children and community program and new uniforms for the six members of the county’s honor guard.

Commissioners also approved the resignation of corrections officer Michael Jones, who is joining the Norway Police Department, and approved hiring corrections officer Nathaniel Brindley.

A request from Stoneham Rescue Service was approved to increase the stipend charged to Albany Township by less than $1,500, to $8,623.50, which is the second increase in 20 years.

Finally, the commissioners approved a $7,923.58 bid from Seacoast Security of West Rockport to upgrade the county’s security door systems at the courthouse. The bid was nearly half the amount of the highest of the three bids.

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