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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

One vote per "parcel"?

  • 24 Sep 2011 2:51 PM
    Message # 707539
    Deleted user
    The statute states "Each parcel of land benefitted...represents one vote".  So what if I bought two adjoining parcels?  Do I get two votes?  Suppose I bought two parcels that are NOT adjoining each other.  Do I get two votes?
  • 24 Sep 2011 10:31 PM
    Reply # 707688 on 707539
    Deleted user
    Doesn't matter if they're adjoining or not.  If there are two distinct parcels, there are two distinct votes.
  • 26 Sep 2011 6:41 PM
    Reply # 709059 on 707539
    wynn muller
    Does the one vote per parcel also mean, one share of the expenses per parcel?  I share a road with one other.  I have three parcels and he has one but we both use the road similarily.  He maintains that I must pay 3/4ths of all costs of road maintenance.  Do you agree?
  • 26 Sep 2011 6:56 PM
    Reply # 709066 on 709059
    Deleted user
    wynn muller wrote:Does the one vote per parcel also mean, one share of the expenses per parcel?  I share a road with one other.  I have three parcels and he has one but we both use the road similarily.  He maintains that I must pay 3/4ths of all costs of road maintenance.  Do you agree?


    Well, that would depend on how your association decides to apportion expenses.  I can't say for certain, but my impression is that most associations probably do apportion expenses equally by parcel.  In that case, each of the 4 parcels would be assessed a 25% share of the expenses.  Since you own 3 of the 4, you'd pay 75% of the expenses.

    However, you cannot form a statutory association in your situation.  The Private Ways statute requires not only at least 4 parcels, but at least 3 distinct owners of those parcels. You have only two, so the statutory associations rules do not apply.

    I guess you and your neighbor will have to come to an agreement.
  • 27 Sep 2011 11:02 AM
    Reply # 709735 on 707688
    Deleted user
    Todd Tolhurst wrote:Doesn't matter if they're adjoining or not.  If there are two distinct parcels, there are two distinct votes.

    What makes a "parcel" distinct?  That is the question I need answered.  If, years ago, the land was subdivided into lots on a survey plat, and someone bought to adjoining lots so that they could have one larger camp lot, is that still two "parcels" now?  Since they only get a single tax bill for what the town considers one "parcel" (the two lots are considered by the town to be one parcel for tax purposes), is that not the intent of the law (to consider it one parcel)?  We believe that a "parcel", for the purposes of the private way law, is defined by the tax map, not a subdivision plan.  We would love to get a legal opinion on that.
  • 28 Sep 2011 5:30 AM
    Reply # 710653 on 707539
    Deleted user
    In our association we have owners who have sold off portions of their land creating another parcel.  This has a separate deeded recorded with the county and is a separate parcel in the eyes of the road association and any other legal entity.  Conversely, there have been adjoining parcels which have been purchased as distinct parcels and have been combined and recorded as one parcel with the county.  This reduces the "per lot" association from 2 to 1 parcel as it is legally one lot.  

    I might caution just taking the information of how many bills the town or plantation sends out. They may combine for efficiency in mailing.  This may be unlikely, but a call to the town tax collector should resolve the issue of whether the legal combining has been completed and recorded.   
  • 29 Sep 2011 9:28 AM
    Reply # 711585 on 710653
    Deleted user
    THOMAS DECOSTE wrote:In our association we have owners who have sold off portions of their land creating another parcel.  This has a separate deeded recorded with the county and is a separate parcel in the eyes of the road association and any other legal entity.  Conversely, there have been adjoining parcels which have been purchased as distinct parcels and have been combined and recorded as one parcel with the county.  This reduces the "per lot" association from 2 to 1 parcel as it is legally one lot.  

    I might caution just taking the information of how many bills the town or plantation sends out. They may combine for efficiency in mailing.  This may be unlikely, but a call to the town tax collector should resolve the issue of whether the legal combining has been completed and recorded.   
    So then, it is determined by how the deed is written?  Or, rather, is it one parcel if the two were conveyed in one deed?  The two parcels have passed ownership multiple times under single deeds.  In other words, long ago someone purchased two adjoining lots, and then conveyed them under one deed, and since then the land has been conveyed multiple times the same way (one deed), but the deed always describes two lots separately.  So is it one or two "parcels"?
  • 14 Oct 2019 8:36 AM
    Reply # 7959137 on 707539
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Since I am retired with an interest in road associations, I decided to plug the word “parcel” into our Forum Search gadget. Up came 150 entries! Hmmm. 

    Here’s an interesting topic: One vote per “parcel”?  September 24, 2011, 2:51 PM, Message #707539:

    QUOTE: The statute states "Each parcel of land benefitted...represents one vote".  So what if I bought two adjoining parcels?  Do I get two votes?  Suppose I bought two parcels that are NOT adjoining each other.  Do I get two votes?

    Good questions. I hope our Association's dilemma and response will help provide an answer.

    Our road association has thirteen Lots comprising ten properties on a private gravel road 800 feet long with a dead end. One owner has three lots that do not contain a residence; another owns two lots, one in common with his spouse, and one of which includes their residence. The remaining eight owner properties occupy eight residential Lots. Our challenge here was to be fair and equitable in determining the number of votes and assessment shares for each owner.

    If we permitted each Lot to be a parcel, one owner would have three votes, another two votes, and the remaining owners one vote each –not a good solution for us. We decided that the number of Lots owned should not decide the number of votes; each of the ten properties should have one vote. We also felt that residential development and, to some extent, location along the road was important in determining assessment shares. 

    Since 23 MRS §3101 states that each parcel shall represent one vote, we decided to approve the following "Definition of a Parcel" for our By-laws:

    “A parcel shall be defined herein to include property owned by a member that meets at least one of the following criteria: 1. A single Lot representing sole ownership interest in the Association. 2. Multiple Lots with an owner in common. 3. A Lot(s) that contains a dwelling unit comprising a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Property meeting two of the above shall be defined by criterion 3.”

    This definition permits the owner of three Lots and the owner of two Lots to have one parcel and one vote each giving our Association the one vote per property we wanted. If one of the owners with multiple Lots sells a single lot without a residence to someone outside our association, that Lot will be a new parcel.

    We decided to assign one full assessment share to each residential parcel excepting two families living within 75 feet of the beginning of the gravel road. They were assigned 1/5 share each. The non-residential parcel composed of three Lots was assigned 1/2 share until the the first annual meeting after the completion of a dwelling unit when one full share will be assigned. 

    Situations faced by road associations are often complicated and can make one's head spin. Finding an amenable solution can be similar to solving a puzzle. I hope our response to the challenges we faced has answered some of the concerns expressed in the above discussion. 

    P. S. I just noticed the question asked in the preceding Reply #711585. Since the definition of a parcel has nothing to do with the deed or its history, I believe the owners in the road association could decide the issue.

    REFERENCES:

    1. Betsy Bowen, "Using the Maine Private Ways Statute (as a Template)", MARA Resources Page, A Leadership Manual, 2009, Page 4.

    2. MARA Forum Topic, 13 Oct 2019,10:35 AM, "Annual Meeting for Statutory Road Association; Private Ways Statute as "Template", Message #7921492 and all Replies.

    Last modified: 15 Oct 2019 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 15 Oct 2019 10:56 AM
    Reply # 7985213 on 707539

    Excellent answer, Sandy.  Our road association came to a similar conclusion.  One owner had multiple lots, not all contiguous, and none with houses on them.  If we had charged him per lot, he would also have gotten several votes, which didn't seem fair to the other members. (Especially since he was a chronic non-payer who only paid up when he was forced to by the sale of one or another of his lots.)  Each time he did sell a lot, we gained a paying member, and also gained one voter.  We also had another member who owned one large lot but periodically divided off a small lot and sold it, which again gave us an additional member with an additional vote.  Yet another member bought the lot adjacent to theirs, so the two are now considered one lot with one fee and one vote.  I like your solution of defining "parcel" in your bylaws, and wish we had thought of doing that, just to be clear.  Fortunately, the owner of the multiple lots has now sold all of them, so this is no longer an issue for us.

  • 26 Dec 2019 3:54 PM
    Reply # 8397071 on 707539

    Interesting topic to add some fuel to the fire on a similarly related topic.

    Headline: "State’s top court rules in dispute over Scarborough tax breaks

    The dispute centered on a widespread but little-known benefit for people who own a vacant adjacent lot."

    https://www.pressherald.com/2019/12/24/states-top-court-rules-in-dispute-over-scarborough-tax-breaks/?fbclid=IwAR3z3C8rqObSSlH37wGhNL2xjQ4y8MSAHL-t2xGV0Ms1NgplcvbtoPcMWig

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