The way the town maintains private roads could be changing.
In 1997, the council was advised that it was illegal to provide maintenance on private roads. However, it was decided the practice would continue in the interest of the public health, safety and welfare as the maintenance would allow emergency service vehicles access.
At its Nov. 14 meeting, the council was advised that public money cannot be used to benefit select individuals. Maintaining private roads is an example of public money benefiting select individuals.
The discussion arose as the council approved an ordinance to make it possible to accept double-chip-sealed roads into the town’s system.
Previously, roads had to have an asphaltic concrete surface before they could be dedicated to the town. Now, roads currently in use need to have only a double chip seal.
The change does not apply to new subdivisions.
The ordinance was proposed by town engineer LaRon Garrett, to help in “getting out of dirt road maintenance. If (dirt roads are) brought to standard and (the drainage problems have been addressed), it can be accepted.”
With the ordinance, Garrett asked the council to allow the street department to stop maintaining about seven miles of dirt roads in the town that are still considered private roads.
He told the council the approximately three miles that were given a single chip seal to reduce dust will not need maintenance for two to three years.
The remainder are scheduled to receive the single chip seal within the next two years, he said in his report.
Garrett asked the council to allow maintenance to be discontinued on the sealed roads immediately, including snow plowing and put up signs indicating they were private roads.
While the council approved the ordinance, it tabled the issue of stopping maintenance on private roads.
One resident protested the table action. Lew Levenson said, “The public was not allowed to talk because it was tabled.”
There was nothing said about bringing the issue back before the council.