Houlton council to discuss subdivision roads

Posted Dec. 09, 2008, at 9:45 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:05 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — The town will consider accepting 3,300 linear feet of new roads located in the Country Fields subdivision at the next Town Council meeting.

The matter first came before the council last month when Jim Brown, who established the Country Fields subdivision just off County Road, addressed the group.

Brown told councilors he had been maintaining the roads in his subdivision since he first set up the establishment and began selling lots several years ago. At this point, 12 to 14 lots have been sold and six homes have been constructed, with the potential for three more homes to be constructed in the near future.

The roads in the subdivision are not paved but are gravel and they are built to town specifications, so the town could pave them in the future. Brown said he never intended to pave the roads, something that those who purchased lots in the subdivision knew ahead of time.

He also said the town has some “nice taxable values out there,” and said he had always planned to turn the roads over to the town.

During their last meeting, however, councilors expressed hesitancy about taking over the roads.

Council Chairman Paul Cleary noted that Brown was the victim of bad timing when he came before them at last month’s meeting, as the cost of fuel for plow trucks and the price of salt were on the rise.

Cleary also said he was concerned because the town already has a huge roads budget. He speculated that accepting the roads could open up a Pandora’s box for the town, with other private road owners asking for the town to take them over.

Town Manager Douglas Hazlett acknowledged that taking on the roads likely would come at an added cost, but said that for “the sake of public safety,” he preferred that the town not have any private roads.

Councilors John Fitzpatrick and Walter Goodrich said they were in favor of taking over the roads.

Goodrich noted that the subdivision is close to the Houlton Southside School and Houlton Elementary School and that Brown said a lot of children live there.

Councilors Sue Tortello and Brian Donnelly decided not to make a decision on the matter until they had more information, such as how many private roads are in town and how much it would cost the public works department to maintain the subdivision roads.

Donnelly also said he wanted to see what the coming year’s roads budget looks like before taking further action.

The council is expected to make a decision on the matter after they receive the requested information during a public hearing Dec. 22.

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