Upon further review of its policy, the Colchester Selectboard has released a set of exceptions for plowing private roads in town.
Due to legal contracts and public safety concerns, the selectboard agreed this month to amend the policy and plow 2.3 miles of private roads indefinitely.
The update comes after a contentious debate over whether the town should continue plowing 15 of 44 miles of private roads in town. Members voted in April to discontinue the practice completely after two public hearings and countless logged public comments.
The exceptions were released on June 9 and updated June 13 and are grouped into three categories.
For one, the town will plow Grandview Road up to the Interstate 89 underpass. In the 1960s, the state acquired this section of road under the interstate, but when it was built in 1979, it gave plowing responsibility back to the town, a Selectboard memo said.
Town trucks will also plow a section of Sunset View Road that leads to an I-89 emergency access corridor. Since the town is responsible for emergency services on the interstate, the board felt it is in the public’s best interest to continue plowing there, members said.
Town manager Aaron Frank said these are likely to be long-term exceptions to the town’s rule.
Other roads noted in the exceptions include Creek Farm, Braeloch, Goodsell Point, Wright Farm, Parsons and Raymond roads and a section of Mills Point Road. These will all continue to be maintained due to the lack of a safe turn-around spot for plow trucks, according to a Selectboard memo.
However, these exceptions may only be short-term fixes to the actual problem.
“Over time we may seek alternate ways of turning around at the end of the public roadway,” Frank explained. “We need to possibly, where it makes sense, create a turnaround so we can avoid leaving a giant dump of snow at the end of the public way.”
Should the exceptions be removed, the town will provide six months written notice before again discontinuing plowing, Frank said.
Residents affected by the policy will receive letters later this week informing them of whether or not their road will continue to be plowed this winter. For residents who will no longer enjoy the benefit of town winter maintenance, information on plowing resources will be included.
Public works director Bryan Osborne hopes the exceptions aren’t a surprise to residents, and he maintains the whole process was thorough and well though out.
“I think we did a pretty good job, as did the selectboard, in reaching out to everybody affected by this policy,” he said.
However, the possibility of a winter without plowed roads is looking more like a reality for some private road residents.
Despite the assistance from the town, residents say they’ve already reached roadblocks in their search for alternatives for the winter season.
Kevin Brooks of Niquette Bay Road said multiple private contractors have denied taking on the project. Additionally, without a road association, collecting fees and making group decisions has proven difficult, he said.
“I’m sure there will be some comments, which we are certainly happy to address and discuss with residents,” Osborne said.