The entrance to the segment of road on Magrath Road that is closed off to winter maintenance on Tuesday, Jan. 17. The only plowing being done to the road is from resident Benjamin Bourassa, who is currently the only resident living beyond this point. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — The Wilton select board voted unanimously on Tuesday, Jan. 17, to allow winter maintenance on Magrath Road for the remainder of this winter after an ongoing discussion over road closures to snow plowing.

Kara Moody and neighbor Benjamin Bourassa both appeared before the board on Dec. 20 to ask about the closure of their road to winter maintenance. Moody also stated that she had already appeared before the board sometime in September.

According to Town Manager Perry Ellsworth, a vote was held in 2009 to close certain roads off for winter maintenance. A similar vote was held in 1986, Ellsworth stated.

This led to a discussion over the validity of the road closure given that the vote was only good for ten years, meaning the vote from 2009 had affect until 2019. After that, the board should have reopened the issue and closed the roads again but failed to do so.

Select board member Tiffany Maiuri acknowledged this at the Jan. 17 meeting. “In 2017, we had talked about these road closures and said we were good in 2019 and it slipped through the cracks,” Maiuri said. “Basically, we should have brought it back up in 2019.”

“We dropped the ball in 2019 or whatever year we should have renewed that,” Selectperson Michael Wells added. “So, we’re, in my estimation, obligated to keep it open [and] passable.”


Vice Chair Keith Swett brought up an MMA [Maine Municipal Association] document called the Guides to Municipal Roads Manual, wherein he was unable to find any guidelines regarding what happens after the ten period when a road is closed to winter maintenance and not properly reclosed.

He did, however, come across details regarding the definition of the road. According to Swett, “[Title] 23 MRSA subsection 3651 says that a municipality must keep all town ways in repair so as to be safe and convenient for travelers with motor vehicles.”

“That’s specific to town ways, not easements or private ways,” he added.

Swett went on to say that he was unable to find documentation that states Magrath Road’s type but was able to compile enough evidence to make a reasonable assumption. “I think we have to assume it’s a town way,” he said, “I was able to go back to 1840 and see that it was a town road back then. So, it’s been there a long time.”

Bourassa currently is the only resident occupying the street. Moody has purchased property and is currently in the process of having her home built. “We’re hoping to live there soon, but our subcontractors are behind schedule,” she stated.

“And you built it knowing that the road was not open to winter maintenance?” Ellsworth asked.


“Yes, we did,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean that we can’t come in here before you all and request that you maintain it.”

The board, according to Maiuri, were presented with a long-term solution and a short-term solution when it came to the winter maintenance of Magrath Road. Ellsworth advised not to continue winter maintenance of the road.

“As the road commissioner, my recommendation is not to reopen it to winter plowing,” he said.

“So, in the short term, I’m in agreement that we get a contract to get it plowed, but no promises for the summer,” Wells stated. “And I guess in hindsight, as a builder, I would want to make sure that the road is a public road and that it’s going to be maintained before I drop a bunch of money into a house. So, I don’t want this to mean that we’re obligated in the future, then it gets down to really this dollars and cents issue of long-term maintenance.”

A motion was made to keep Magrath Road open for winter maintenance for the remainder of this winter.

Keith Swett added that the manual from MMA specifically stated that private plowing of these roadways, as well as repairs made by a private landowner, were strictly forbidden as the town is liable for maintenance and repairs.

“This is in conflict between the road closing and the requirement to plow,” Swett stated. “MMA says you don’t want private people plowing town roads. So how do you close a road to winter maintenance when the liability issue is still the town’s and you tell somebody else they can’t plow it, but they live there. So, I don’t know how that would all play out.”

“I think that would be a topic of a different discussion,” Chairperson David Leavitt stated.

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