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By Tyler Hadyniak | Apr 24, 2021

On April 17, about 50 town residents met for the annual town meeting at the Mount View High School gym. It was fun to see people who I otherwise wouldn’t normally run into. I sat in the far back so folks of harder hearing could be closer to town officials, which afforded me an opportunity to catch up with an old childhood friend and classmate of mine, Dylan Turner.

The meeting was moderated by former Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeau, and the Spirit of America award was presented to Selectman Steve Bennett. Overall, all 34 articles passed almost unanimously and with little discussion.

The only topic that engendered a substantial discussion was the proposal brought by Rollins Road residents to remove the “public easement” on a certain portion of the road, and “return ownership to abutters.” This road is “discontinued to maintenance only,” and residents were unhappy that people could come down the road uninvited, yet road residents are responsible for its maintenance.

For about 30 minutes people spoke to the pros and cons of removing the town’s interest in such a road. The point many road residents made was that the town did not have much of an interest if the town had already abdicated its maintenance responsibility. The proposal ultimately passed with only two dissenters (at least as far as I counted).

I thought this topic warranted special mention because it could be precedential to similar proposals around town. According to Volunteer Fire Chief Jim Waterman, about 80 of the about 325 houses in town are on roads that are “discontinued to maintenance only.” And anecdotally speaking, most of the people moving into town are moving onto these discontinued roads. Therefore, the ability of these roads' residents to remove their road’s public easement — allowing residents to take legal action against trespassers (anyone who does not have an invitation to come down the road) — could have wide implications.

Personally, I am happy for the Rollins Road residents and congratulate them on their initiative. I think the residents’ interest in having full control over their property far outweighs the town’s interest in holding onto a public easement for a road that is already discontinued for town maintenance. The balancing test favors the residents more when, as in the Rollins Road situation, the town abdicated its maintenance responsibility back in the 1950s.

Further, road residents acknowledge their responsibility to maintain the road. It is their property in every sense of the word, except that the public could come down the road and, through ATVing during the mud season or other inconveniences, leave the road in disrepair and disrupt the quality of life they sought by moving to an out-of-the-way place like Rollins Road. So why not make the residents’ ownership official?

Otherwise, the weightiest issues included appropriating $240,003 for general government, $3,000 for General Assistance, $7,250 for Public Safety; and $333,940.03 for Public Works. All these passed with little discussion.

This town meeting is not the only newsworthy event in town. On Saturday, May 1, the Freedom Congregational Church is having a 7 a.m. breakfast, 9 a.m. bike blessing, and a 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. yard sale. Specifically, church organizers say that “we are inviting everyone to bring by their favorite ride” for a blessing. Yard sale tables will be available to rent.

I want to take a moment and thank all those people who have reached out to me, or who I saw at the town meeting, who complimented me on this column. I also see that Linda Dixon and Rita Doughty gave me shout-outs in their town columns. Thank you all for reading and reaching out to me. I sincerely appreciate it and your feedback. I find writing this column fun and a great way to stay in touch with the town.

 

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