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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

What is the total number of Maine taxpayers pay assessments to a road association?

  • 18 Sep 2021 3:30 PM
    Message # 11099726

    What is the total number and what percent of Maine taxpayers pay assessments to a road association?

    Are we only a few thousand or are we millions?

    The Bridgton Public Works Department, in their 2019 Annual Report, said they plowed 85 miles of town roads in the 2018-2019 winter. Looking at the Bridgton road map, that looks like less than half the total number of road miles. I would like to know how many Bridgton citizens live on those unplowed roads. 

    Does Bridgton prioritize businesses over residents who might patronize businesses?

    How close are we to being a majority of people who vote?

    These are not questions the public works or the MaineDOT answered when I asked for statistics.


  • 19 Sep 2021 9:58 AM
    Reply # 11101075 on 11099726
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    That is an excellent question, and I wish there were an easy way to find the answer as I have wondered the same thing.  If you have the time to do some digging, you may be able to get at least a partial answer.

    I remember years ago trying to answer a similar question.  That was before MARA was formed, and before sections 3101-3106 were applied to private roads.  Those sections were about to be repealed because a change in law (23 MRS 3021) made the term "private way" refer to "public easements," which are easements owned by the public.  The "private ways statutes," which had been on the books since the 1800's, began, "When four or more persons are owners and occupants of a private way or bridge, ..."  Since under the new law, the land owners no longer were considered to own the right of way of a private way, that made the whole chapter useless.  But a bunch of us saw how useful those statutes could be to those who own private roads

    Betsy Bowen and I and a few members of Homeowners' Associations got together to save the law before it was killed.  I believe one technique we used was to get a listing of the state's registered non-profit organizations and flag any name that contained the word "lake," or otherwise looked like it might take care of a road.  We were able to pull in enough to get a group of people to stand in the hall outside the House chamber and grab the ears of the Representatives as they were on their way in to vote to repeal the private ways laws.  We had been told it was pretty much hopeless once the law had been scheduled to be repealed, but we managed to save it.  (That's why the chapter still bears the name "Private Ways" while now it actually applies mainly to private roads.) 

    Anyway, that's one lead you might want to try.  I can find out for you how many road associations are represented by MARA members, although statutory road associations are not required to register with MARA or with the State.  Of course neither of these will tell you how many voters each road association represents, but it will give some hint at the magnitude of our numbers.

    Another avenue to try, especially to get figures on Bridgton, is to go to the Maine DOT public mapviewer site and look up how many roads are indicated as public and how many are not.  I'll get back to you later with instructions on how to navigate that site.

  • 20 Sep 2021 7:51 AM
    Reply # 11103307 on 11099726

    Good information and hx. I am looking at the Maine DOT public map viewer. I looked at it long ago. Too bad there is not an anonymous registry for us.  I find some statistics about HOAs, condo associations, but nothing about road association numbers. I know on the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, road associations might be filed under miscellaneous or maintenance. They might be under a particular town. Or they might be under "NOL". That 's just the registered ones, not incorporated associations.


    Last modified: 20 Sep 2021 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 13 Oct 2021 12:43 PM
    Reply # 11452640 on 11099726
    Anonymous

    If a non for profit is formed to maintain roads and common areas for an Association, is it necessarily a 'road association'?   Or would the non for profit have to be formed under a specific road association statute?

    The idea of knowing how many road associations there are in Maine and what fees they charge would be a fantastic resource.  Seems though that the grouping them by type is tricky? Like why does the 'lake' matter?



  • 14 Oct 2021 11:05 AM
    Reply # 11475324 on 11099726
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You asked, "If a non for profit is formed to maintain roads and common areas for an Association, is it necessarily a 'road association'?   Or would the non for profit have to be formed under a specific road association statute?"

    If the purpose of the non-profit includes maintaining common areas, it is not strictly a road association, although it is also covering the duties of a road association.  So it would not be necessary to for(m) a road association, but a "Statutory" road association has some enforcement powers and other protections that a non-profit does not have.  If it's running well as a non-profit, there may be no reason to change.  But if there is a problem with non-payers, it might be advantageous to hand off the road maintenance duties to a statutory road association.  Maintenance of common areas cannot be done by a statutory road association, so the non-profit would still have to handle that duty.

    You also asked, "The idea of knowing how many road associations there are in Maine and what fees they charge would be a fantastic resource.  Seems though that the grouping them by type is tricky? Like why does the 'lake' matter?"

    Many road associations have nothing to do with a lake.  But there are also many that do have lake frontage, or that are close to a lake and within its watershed.  In those cases, uncontrolled erosion from the road can have significant impact on water quality.  Runoff from a road contributes to "non-point source pollution," adding nutrients to the lake which can contribute to algae bloom and sedimentation.  

    The statutes that now govern road associations on private roads were a holdover from archaic laws under which a road commissioner could be appointed to oversee maintenance of what are now known as "public easements."  Before the statutes were changed to provide for the formation of road associations on private roads, in many cases there were Lake Associations formed that addressed maintenance issues on private roads as one of their efforts to preserve lake water quality.  When we were pushing for that amendment in the road association laws, we used a listing of lake associations to find people to support the amendment.  So there is a natural relationship between road associations and lake associations.   There are some road associations that have nothing to do with lakes, and some lake associations probably have little to do with private roads, but there is also an overlap that deal with both.

    Last modified: 15 Oct 2021 6:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 15 Oct 2021 11:42 AM
    Reply # 11494020 on 11099726
    Anonymous

    Thank you Roberta for providing some clarity around the non for profit versus road association categorization.  And also for the Lake association. 

    So I gather that the 'teeth' in collecting fees for private roads is granted to road associations.  And a non profit who has the duties of both the road association and common facilities, MAY fall under these statutes or not? And only an entity that operates under the 'road association statutes' has the authority to put a lien on a property for non payment; so if there are common facilities beyond road maintenance, then the portion of the fees relating to common facilities may not fall under road association statutes?

    If there is a non for profit, that is not functioning under the road statutes, then they do not have the authority to place a lien on properties? 

    Is it possible for a non for profit that maintains roads and common facilities to function outside of the road association statutes?

    Are there many 'non for profits' in the state that choose to function outside of the road association statutes?

    I so appreciate any insight you have to offer.  Thank you.


  • 16 Oct 2021 11:07 AM
    Reply # 11526825 on 11099726
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I'll try to answer all those questions.

    First, there are at least three types of road associations.  An "Informal" road association would be where neighbors just voluntarily pitch in towards the cost of road maintenance.  They don't have to file with anyone, or follow any particular rules, and they have no enforcement powers. 

    The second type is the "Non-profit Corporation Road Association."  It has to file with the State as a non-profit corporation, and follow the rules for non-profit corporations of any type, including paying an annual fee to the State.  It has no specific enforcement powers, although it does have the option of filing a complaint in small claims court to try to collect fees from a non-payer.

    The third type is a Statutory Road Association, which is set up under very specific rules set forth in 23 MRS 3101 - 3104.  Here's a link:  https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/statutes/23/title23sec3101.html   You can scroll through the applicable statutes by clicking on the arrow at the top right hand corner of that page. 

    In order to be a Statutory Road Association, three or more owners of property benefited by the road have to get together and apply to a Notary to call the initial meeting, and they must send notice of the meeting to every owner of property benefited by the road.  It is only by carefully following the process detailed by the statutes that an association becomes a "statutory" road association, and dues collected are to be used ONLY for road maintenance and related expenses.  (Common land is not covered.)

    It is possible for a road association to satisfy the requirements to become BOTH a non-profit corporation and a statutory road association at the same time, and many do that in order to get the benefits of both.  For example, as you state, a non-profit corporation may also care for common properties, which a Statutory Road Association cannot do.  But a Statutory Road Association has the power to file a "Notice of Claim" (basically a lien) to aid in the collection of unpaid dues, and a non-profit corporation does not have that power.

    So to answer your questions specifically, you said, "I gather that the 'teeth' in collecting fees for private roads is granted to road associations."  To be clear, it is granted to STATUTORY Road Associations, not to non-profit corporations.

    You asked, "And a non profit who has the duties of both the road association and common facilities, MAY fall under these statutes or not?"  A non-profit corporation does not fall under 23 MRS 3101-3104, but can ALSO follow the requirements to become a statutory road association for the purpose of maintaining the road (not the common facilities) and having the powers granted by those statutes.

    You asked,  "only an entity that operates under the 'road association statutes' has the authority to put a lien on a property for non payment; so if there are common facilities beyond road maintenance, then the portion of the fees relating to common facilities may not fall under road association statutes?"  That is correct.  Fees for the common facilities cannot be charged by a Statutory Road Association, so it cannot use its powers to collect them.

    You asked, "If there is a non for profit, that is not functioning under the road statutes, then they do not have the authority to place a lien on properties?"  They do not have the authority to file a Notice of Claim.  They do have the power to file a claim in Small Claims Court, but that involves actually going to Court.  A Notice of Claim is simply filed with the Registry of Deeds, then the Notice just sits there until it either expires after 18 months, or is renewed before it expires.  If the land owner tries to sell the land or obtain a loan, a title search will bring up the claim and it will need to be settled to clear the title.  So it doesn't always bring speedy payment, but it is likely to get paid eventually.

    You asked, "Is it possible for a non for profit that maintains roads and common facilities to function outside of the road association statutes?"  Yes, it can operate purely as a non-profit corporation, but 23 MRS 3101-3104 will not apply.  It will not have to go through the process of having a Notary call the first meeting, etc, and will not be bound by the limits imposed by those statutes, (restrictions on where paving is allowed, for example.) But it also will not have the advantages afforded by the statutes such as the ability to file a Notice of Claim, and the Immunity from Suit that is afforded under section 3101.

    You asked, "Are there many 'non for profits' in the state that choose to function outside of the road association statutes?"  Probably, although I can't tell you how many.



    Last modified: 19 Oct 2021 10:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

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