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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

road association question

  • 05 Sep 2012 10:00 PM
    Message # 1065520
    Anonymous
    I'm listening to a debate over how to form a road association of a particular road.  Here is a question that seems to go beyond that established by law and dep manuals. 

    If a private road is the only public access to a public road which, in turns, leads to other private roads, how do the private road associations establish association membership and financial responsibilities? 

    My personal opinion is that the property owners abutting the "main" private road (ownership of the road is uncertain) can form a road association of that private road, which can then levy equal fee across all property owners that use the "main" private road (including those living on this public road). While the Town may have interest in the "main" private road, there is no basis to pursue any levy against the Town. Capital improvement levy must be based on valuation as I understand but will still apply to users.  The "other" road associations are free to organize their own associations without regard to this situation.  The end result being that some property owners must belong to more than one road association, and pay for the private roads they use.

    Any comments would be most helpful.  Thanks!


  • 19 Sep 2012 4:01 PM
    Reply # 1076834 on 1065520
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A map or sketch would be helpful but without that here is a thought.

    Title 23 sect. 3101 says:

    "When 4 or more parcels of land are benefited by a private road, private way or bridge as an easement or by fee ownership of the private road, private way or bridge, the owners of any 3 or more of the parcels, as long as at least 3 of the parcels are owned by different persons, may make written application to a notary public to call a meeting. The notary may issue a warrant or similar written notice setting forth the time, place and purpose of the meeting. Copies of the warrant or similar written notice must be mailed by means of the United States Postal Service to the owners of all the parcels benefited by the private road, private way or bridge at the addresses set forth in the municipal tax records at least 30 days before the date of the meeting."

    As usual the key word is BENEFITED.

    Based on your description of the situation it sounds like there is one "major" private road that benefits all the lots. The public road could be left totally out of the equation since presumably the town maintains that road however the lots on that public road are benefited by the major private road. All lots could be made "members" of the "major" road association. The other private roads could each form an association for the "subsequent" road that benefits those lots.

    Another option that might be achievable (with work) would be one association that maintains all the private roads. This would likely be difficult because the lots on the major road probably would say they don't want to support the "outer" roads.

    What do you think?

  • 19 Sep 2012 7:57 PM
    Reply # 1076995 on 1076834
    Anonymous
    Peter Dunn wrote:

    A map or sketch would be helpful but without that here is a thought.

    Title 23 sect. 3101 says:

    "When 4 or more parcels of land are benefited by a private road, private way or bridge as an easement or by fee ownership of the private road, private way or bridge, the owners of any 3 or more of the parcels, as long as at least 3 of the parcels are owned by different persons, may make written application to a notary public to call a meeting. The notary may issue a warrant or similar written notice setting forth the time, place and purpose of the meeting. Copies of the warrant or similar written notice must be mailed by means of the United States Postal Service to the owners of all the parcels benefited by the private road, private way or bridge at the addresses set forth in the municipal tax records at least 30 days before the date of the meeting."

    As usual the key word is BENEFITED.

    Based on your description of the situation it sounds like there is one "major" private road that benefits all the lots. The public road could be left totally out of the equation since presumably the town maintains that road however the lots on that public road are benefited by the major private road. All lots could be made "members" of the "major" road association. The other private roads could each form an association for the "subsequent" road that benefits those lots.

    Another option that might be achievable (with work) would be one association that maintains all the private roads. This would likely be difficult because the lots on the major road probably would say they don't want to support the "outer" roads.

    What do you think?


    I agree.  The statue does not distinguish between property owners that benefit differently so all are equally responsible to the association.  I think there will be a lot of very unhappy people in this situation.  Many of those who benefit from this particular private road are completely unaware of their potential liability.  

    I live on another private road that uses the "major" private road also. Frankly, it is unclear to me exactly where to "draw the line" on determining who benefits and who doesn't.  Besides those who need to use the road to access their property, there are many, many other people who use the private road(s) frequently.

    Thank you for the post.  Anyone else have any ideas?


  • 19 Sep 2012 8:10 PM
    Reply # 1076999 on 1065520
    Deleted user
    Actually, it's quite straightforward to determine who "benefits" and who does not.  This benefit is not some subjective measure of who derives some amount of use from the road; the statute is talking about parcels which are "benefitted [...]  as an easement or by fee ownership".  That is, if a parcel either owns all or a portion of the road, or has an easement for the use of the road, then it is "benefitted".

    The deeds of the properties should contain the information you need to determine who the owners and easement grantees are.
  • 19 Sep 2012 10:14 PM
    Reply # 1077089 on 1065520
    Anonymous
    Unfortunately, there is no easement on or ownership of this road listed in any deed that I have seen and I have combed thru many.  In my deed for instance, the road I live is covered in a somewhat ambiguous fashion but there is nothing about the road that it connects to.  I certainly have wondered if (technically speaking that is) I have any right to use that road along with everyone else.  It may follow that it was considered (at the time) to be public but the Town doesn't agree.

    When we go "way back" to the 1930s, the deed encompassing everything (all the roads and properties) recognized the right to use of roads by "people from other lands" as dictated by the Maine Supreme Court (land was taken out of receivership)  That doesn't quite cover the property owners of the land now, but adds to make things worse "others."

    It was recommended by the legal eagles to conduct a title search on all the properties involved including still others indirectly involved.  The price tag for that caused that approach to be quickly dismissed.

    Thanks for the input tho.  Personally, I think we are all screwed unless the Town bails us out but that doesn't appear likely anytime soon.

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