Maine Alliance for Road Associations
This maine bill, LD 1598, is being presented to the judiciary committee on May 8, 2019, it will be an attempt to add a new item onto our existing title 23 private way law. please submit your comments to the public hearing at https://www.mainelegislature.org/testimony/ under the judiciary committee.
(See if this edit fixes the width.)
This bill would essentially make road associations available to
those on roads that have too few land owners to qualify under
23 MRSA section 3101, and would allow payment to be
enforced even if there is no road association. While I think
it is well-intentioned, i.e. to provide maintenance for roads
not covered by 3101, I have serious concerns about the
way it is worded.
Of particular concern is the requirement that if there is no
road association, "each owner of a benefited property
shall share, in proportion to the benefit received
by that owner's benefited property."
While this sounds all well and good, the bill gives
no indication of how each person's share will be
determined, or by whom.
It appears that if one low-income person had lived happily
on a mud road by themselves for years, and then higher
income people move in who want a better road, perhaps
even a paved road, then they can force the long-time
resident to pay fees beyond his means to share in building
more road than he wants or needs. There appears to be
no requirement even to give everyone a vote on what will
be done. Besides, the long-time resident likely knew how
to keep his wear and tear on the road to a minimum so as
not to destroy the road, where the newcomers may place
a much heavier burden on the road simply because of the
way they drive, the frequency of their trips, or the type of
vehicle they use. Yet under this bill they could potentially
assign the lion's share of the cost to the person who owns
the most land, or who lives the farthest in and therefore
uses more of the road, even if his use has the least actual
impact on the road.
You can read the full text of the bill here: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/
For some reason the right hand margin of your reply was cut off so it is hard to follow your reply.
Emily - not sure why it did that, but I think I found a simple way to fix it.
perfect. Thank you! I agree with your concern.
Myself and another MARA member attended this public hearing, it turns out that the banking industry and real estate agents were the one's who wanted to get our Title 23 private road ways changed for their needs. We spoke with them to discover that they did not know what a statutory road association is nor many other items. Fortunately there were quite a few legislators familiar with road associations.
It turns out the main concern of this bill was to address the fact that many mortgage companies will not grant a mortgage on a private road unless there is some assurance of how the road will be kept passable for emergency vehicles. The sponsors thought L.D. 1598 would be an easy fix, but after hearing the opposition, they now realize it's more complicated than they thought. Now they are talking about asking to have it held over until next session, and in the mean time, getting together with the other concerns to try to come up with a better solution. Hopefully, that is what they will ask, and hopefully the Judiciary Committee will agree.
Board of Directors Member - that's quite possible. One thought that I had in the back of my mind back that bill was presented was that it might make some real estate sales more difficult, which might not be a bad thing because it would bring more voices to the table to get legislation to fix the problems surrounding roads that are not maintained by the public. Up until recently, there were scattered individuals with problem roads, who didn't have much pull with the legislature. In recent years, there has been growing interest of organizations that have more pull, and we've begun to make some progress. Maine Woodland Owners (formerly SWOAM), the Forest Products Council, Maine Realtors' Association, MARA, the DOT, Maine ROADWays, and the Registers of Deeds Association have all had input in various bills that have come up. (This is not necessarily a complete list, so my apologies to anyone I've missed.) The combined effort has helped get legislation in a number of related areas: making it a class E crime to damage a public easement, and to create a "cause of action" that allows a landowner to bring suit against a person who damages a public easement; clarifying the process for discontinuance of town roads and requiring notice of discontinuance to be recorded in the Registry of Deeds and at the DOT; requiring the town road discontinuance process to include a provision allowing voluntary private agreements to extinguish the public easement; blocking legislation that would have exempted land owners with other access from paying road association dues; and requiring real estate disclosures when either residential or non-residential land is accessed by a road that is not maintained by the public. A bill presented for Maine Woodland Owners that would repeal abandonment is being held over until next year. So we are gaining on it, but we still have a ways to go, as long as private citizens are having to take on the expense of road maintenance in addition to paying municipal taxes.
This bill has been posted to be carried over to I assume next year.
The Maine Alliance for Road Associations