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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

Questions about sample by-laws

  • 30 May 2021 8:51 AM
    Message # 10574529

    We are attempting to upgrade our road association from informal to statutory. We are using the sample by-laws from your guide and have a couple of questions. One: is it a requirement to have directors in addition to road association officers on the board of directors? Two: In section 4, it says in the event of a casualty loss, the board can proceed without notice to the property owners. Is it allowable to notify the owners but without a vote?

    Incidentally, I noticed in reading through some of the posts and answers that it was unclear why someone thought the statutory format only lasted for a year-it is because that is what the sample by-law says in Section 2B.

    Thank you so much for your help with this! 

    Marty

    President, Barnes Point Road Association

  • 31 May 2021 7:43 AM
    Reply # 10577180 on 10574529
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am President/Road Commissioner of our statutory road association. We went through the process of changing from informal to statutory in 2016 and have remained thus committed. Good luck with your transition!

    I see you are using the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) "Guide to Forming Road Associations, Online Appendices in one file, Appendix D" for your reference to sample statutory association by-laws. This is one of several resources we used as well. Please note that the DEP Guide indicates that "the by-laws are only a sample... ." MARA has two more samples on our Resources Page. Your Association has much latitude to decide the content of your new by-laws using the Private Ways Statute (PWS), 23 Title ยง3101-3104, as the primary legal guide.

    In answer to your question "One",  the PWS refers to "choosing a commissioner or board ..." to help run the association. Therefore, the presence of officers and directors is your choice. We decided to have 4 officers and a 5 member board of directors that includes all the officers.

    As for your question "Two", our by-laws allow our board to declare an emergency without a vote of the owners and address all repairs under a cost of $1000. Above this, a majority of owners must approve funds needed in an emergency by telephone vote. You may wish to handle emergencies differently in your association. Just make sure the means is both "fair and equitable", a PWS dictum, and decided by the democratic process set forth in the PWS. 

    Regarding your last paragraph, "Appendix D, Section 2B" of the sample by-laws you reference offers an example only, it is not the law, the PWS is, and therefore should not be considered definitive in deciding the duration of your statutory road association. 

    Last modified: 31 May 2021 9:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 03 Jun 2021 10:49 AM
    Reply # 10587279 on 10574529

    Thank you so much. This is very helpful

  • 29 Jun 2021 5:58 PM
    Reply # 10712128 on 10574529

    Hello everyone. I am a new member and live in Casco on Thomas Pond. It's a beautiful, quiet little lake but we are having a problem with "unhosted" short term rental (STRs) properties on our road. These properties are purchased by out of state corporate type businesses for the sole purpose of earning rental income. They are open all year with unsupervised groups coming and going. This is not your average homeowner renting their spare bedroom to help with taxes..

    We want to add regulations to our road association bylaws to protect ourselves from these businesses. These rental online platforms like Airbnb, are spreading fast without the regulations needed. Has anyone added any STR regulations to their bylaws?  Any experiences with unhosted SRTs?   Sincerely,  Candace Carr

  • 30 Jun 2021 7:58 AM
    Reply # 10713842 on 10574529
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    STRs, as you describe them, seem to present a major threat to property owners on private (and public) roads in Maine. I have asked the MARA Board for their thoughts and experience. Thank you, Candace, for calling STRs to our attention!
    Last modified: 30 Jun 2021 11:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 30 Jun 2021 11:35 PM
    Reply # 10716156 on 10574529
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Short Term Rental situation isn't entirely different from the plight of "public easements" retained on discontinued town roads, the similarity being use by others who have no long term stake in the condition of the road. They are therefore likely to come, abuse it, and leave, while those who live there and depend on the road for access are left paying the bill for repairs. At least in the case of STR's, there is someone identifiable who has a responsibility to the road (i.e. the owner of the rental property) and they should be able to identify who the renter was who caused the damage. But where the owner of the business is not present, they are unlikely to see the damage and it may be difficult to convince them that their renter did in fact damage the road.

    I would recommend taking pictures of the road at regular intervals so you have some proof of deterioration at any particular time. If you can catch the guilty party on a trail camera, (doing donuts in the gravel road with an ATV, for example,) that's even better. Or take a video tracing the ATV tracks back to where the ATV's are parked. (I'm just using ATV's as an example, as we've had d trouble with them. There could be other kinds of damage.)

    I can think of a few possible remedies, most of which should appear as an amendment to your bylaws, or, if you don't have bylaws, in a written "formula" for assessments.

    1) The Statute allows a lot of flexibility in how you determine your "formula" for assessments. As long as everyone in the same group is treated the same, that has been considered "fair and equitable" by the courts. So you could specify in your formula that year-round residents pay at one rate, seasonal residents pay at that same rate or at a different rate, and rental businesses pay at a higher rate because of the associated risk to the condition of the road. If the rental business objects, tell them they can just pass the cost along to the renters.

    2) Require a damage deposit. At the end of the year if there has been no significant damage, the deposit can be returned, or rolled over to the next year.

    3) Specify that anyone who causes damage to the road, or whose invitees cause damage to the road, will be billed for the repairs.

    4) When you notify the owner of the rental business of your new policy, suggest that they put something into their rental contract to put the renter on notice. For example, the rental contract could require a damage deposit (although some may take this as license to damage the road because they have already paid for it.) Or the contract could specify the renter may be charged an extra fee if they damage the road. Or the rental contract could specify no ATV use on the association's road, or ATV use limited to 5 mph strictly enforced. Or the business owner could be asked not to rent the property during March or April, or be told that if they do rent it during mud season and damage results, they will we charged for repairs, so they should charge more for rentals during mud season.


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