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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

Authority to have a vehicle towed blocking the right of way

  • 05 Mar 2019 8:26 PM
    Message # 7201533

    Hello, We have a property owner who has not cleared his driveway. Instead he parks on our Association's road, in the Right of way.  He refuses to move it.  Does anyone know what authority an Association has to tow a vehicle.  We are a Statutory Road Association, not a non-profit.

  • 07 Mar 2019 10:42 AM
    Reply # 7204553 on 7201533
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hi Emily,

    Who owns the road or the property, covered by a deed, that the vehicle is parked upon? If that inconsiderate person owns the property he may a have a right to be there.

    In our case rather than focus on association members who have to pass by to get in or out from their property, I have enlisted the support of our municipal Fire/Rescue Department. Some times they have a little more "horsepower". It is the emergency fire/rescue vehicles that we are concerned about. Also this time of year (December to March) with temperatures well below freezing the ingress and egress ability of fuel trucks and possibility other repairmen/contractors becomes very important. In addition to municipal officials perhaps the local sheriff department can put on some pressure. They may know of a law that could be brought to bear.

    Good luck, this is a real "nuisance" problem, Peter D. 

  • 08 Mar 2019 11:38 AM
    Reply # 7206428 on 7201533
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Is there some reason why he cannot clear his driveway?  Is he disabled, or can he not afford to hire someone to plow it?  Has this been going on all winter, or just recently?  Maybe his snow blower broke down, or he hurt his back?  It may be that your cheapest solution at the moment would be to do the neighborly thing, shovel his driveway for him or hire someone to plow it, but let him know you can't continue to do so.  I'm always an advocate for trying to resolve things amicably rather than resorting to methods that build animosity and lead to confrontation and ultimately costly legal action.  After all, he is your neighbor, and you're going to have to live with him.  Often the best first step is to really listen to a person's concerns.  There are always some people who will not listen to reason, but it's always worth a try.

  • 10 Mar 2019 10:58 AM
    Reply # 7208959 on 7201533

    Thoughtful of you Rita.  This is someone who is not disabled. He just decided not to shovel his driveway and instead to park his car on the Association's common road.  As far as blocking the Right of Way.  I'm not sure - Technically, he owns 1/2 the road and we own 1/2 the road. And people beyond us have a Right of way through both properties on the road. (Yes Peter the same property owner I have mentioned before)

  • 11 Mar 2019 12:20 PM
    Reply # 7210467 on 7201533
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If the person beyond you has a deeded right of way, they might have standing to have the guy towed.  Even if his vehicle isn't totally blocking the way, they might be able to argue that they have a right to the full width of the right of way for plowing, fire access, etc.  But I still would recommend doing everything possible to keep the situation from getting confrontational.  Property disputes can get UGLY!  As founder of Maine ROADWays, (Residents & Owners on Abandoned & Discontinued Ways,) I see a lot of situations where one person claims they have a right to use a road, and another claims a right to block it.  The law isn't always clear, especially on abandoned or discontinued roads, and trying to get it clarified through court action can get frightfully expensive, not to mention frustratingly unhelpful.  All too often, one or the other of the parties ultimately takes things into their own hands, and it escalates into a Hatfields and McCoys situation.  We're watching one of those unfold now, and it's scary.  Hopefully where there is a properly organized road association, that won't happen.  But you still are likely to have this guy as a neighbor indefinitely, so better to do your best to find an amicable way to settle it than to cultivate feelings of animosity.

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