Thursday, December 15, 2011

Town of Sandwich's "no plow" rules generating snowstorm of discontent

Prius plow: To stop global warming, we'll need more of these
Guest article by Jonathan Fitch

I don’t much like that our town leaders continue to deny plowing services to folks on some private roads. The announced reasoning is that these roads do not meet standards the leaders feel are not just desirable, but absolutely critical for municipal workers to be able to do the job at all. The advice from the selectmen is for affected residents to hire private contractors. To my mind, the logic in this advice defeats the reasons given for the town’s refusal to plow. If a private contractor can do the job, so can the town.

There are no legal obstacles preventing the town from plowing all private roads; the decision to deny services is purely political business. Many years ago, town meeting voted to authorize the town to plow private ways. Without that vote, no town would plow private ways. I doubt voters at that meeting realized, however, that the vote authorized, but did not require plowing.

For starters, this is a fairness thing. Taxes pay for town owned roads so why shouldn’t they pay for private roads just the same. Neighborhoods that wish to be truly private can opt out, but for the rest of us, our private roads are available to the public just the same as town roads. The only differences are technical and unlikely to deter the general public from driving on them.

I am not a fan of big government, but I concede there are some services government is better suited to handle than individuals. Snow plowing of all roads is one of those services. (I’ll save the subject of maintenance for another day.) Providing snow plowing for all who need it is not unlike operating a transfer station for all who need it. We have a DPW that is staffed and equipped and knows how to handle plowing. We can all benefit from economies of scale and management now in place.

But, for some time now, town leaders are just saying “No.” I don’t hear any talk of solutions and that is the most disappointing of all. I think it is fair to say that snow plowing of private roads is an important issue that is not getting the attention from leadership that it deserves. Without going on for ten pages and spouting off with my own proposals, I’m asking for an exchange of ideas.  Perhaps a solution will emerge.

Is the town’s current position legitimate? Is it fair? Should it be fair? Should government be involved at all? Should all roads be town roads upon request? Are those on town roads assessed differently from those on acceptable private roads and are they assessed differently from those on “no plow” private roads? How do we work this out?

134 comments:

  1. Mr. Fitch, Thank you for getting this started. Me thinks you must live on a Private Road. When I first bought a home, I too lived on a private road. A baby was born in a home that could not be accessed during a severe storm. Soon after we became a public road thanks to TM. For me, it is a matter of Safety as in my opinion safety is the paramount point in this discussion. I don't have children in school, but I pay for schools, I don't use the dump because I can not drive there but I pay for the transfer station, I don't use any roads because I can not drive (people drive to my home, but the point here is that I don't use the roads myself-should I get a break. Its a fact of life that we as humans do need government, not one that is constantly in our pockets, but one that protects us from harm. I already live in a section of town that in most of the state is a town away from a fire station. Now when I call 911 I will have to wait for the ambulance to come from Forestdale or downtown and once they get there, wait for a plow. What if the plow people are at coffee break? Oh well, guess I'm dead alredy.

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  2. Johnathan, you write an interesting and probably controversial article. Having dealt with some expensive snow removal contracts in my lifetime, one glaring thing jumps out when you are dealing with a road that is substandard. The damage to a plow truck (please include the blade, the vehicle frame and its components) when it catches a plowblade in a rut/pothole can be season ending for the owner. Any private party will look at some of these private roads and walk away. They are looking for a small profit, not a negative cash flow to replace their equipment. The second aspect of your article that gets the hair up on my neck, in my neck of the woods, has more to do with stubborness than logic. When the builder who built our small complex of 15 houses put in a substandard road. It needed some work before the town would accept it and each of the homeowners coughed up a little cash to do it. Fast forward to today and very close to our good road, we find a short piece of private road where the owners simply refuse to pay their fair share. They just dig in their heels and are waiting for the entitlement snow plow to show up to clean their portion of the road inspite of the 12 inch deep potholes that have grown streetwide due to poor road maintenance. In fairness...some had to pay...and some don't? My 30 year old street has had minimum maintenance done by the town since being built. We have the tar snakes over lots of cracks. In good times, the town probably should have paved the road 10 years ago but a lot of town streets in neighborhoods settled for the slurry coverup. Cheaper but not a very durable surface. The private road never gets any maintenance..it just continues to degrade. In our case, I don't think that 1/5 of a mile of road can be repaired for less than a million, when one considers the price of asphalt these days. I think that is why the town has taken this stance. They have given more than sufficient notice to the owners, owners in some cases who are playing the odds. Like I said, you asked a great question.....

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  3. Carl Johansen would state that those living on a private road had been given due notice over two years ago to get the roads up to standard. This is not just about trucks plowing roads and having those trucks and equipment damaged it is about the Fire trucks as well.

    What good does it do to plow a private road that does not have in place a way for the trucks to turn around safely. Or for that matter is not wide enough for the blade to move the snow>

    The facts remain that the original contractors were able to get away with building a sub standard road system that those who bought the houses on were able to buy at a lower price then if the road been built to standard specifications.

    This problem also goes back to legal advise provided by some councils to evade other issues that may result in some savings for the contractor.

    The solution as I see it is for the town to take by emminant domaine all of these private road ways over and charge back as beterments to each house hold the cost of the improvement. Like you would do when you put in a water or sewer line.

    They could do this with a process that has a scheduled street, starting with the worst ones first.

    This may not be the way some would like to see this problem resolved, that is unfortuned for those living on the private roads, but if they are unwilling to find a resolution to a problem they were party to when they purchased the home, nowing the road was not up to standard in the first place and it had restrictions placed on it.

    This problem did not evolve over night, it happened over many years of building and folks looking the other way to gain a larger profit margin from the project.

    I would ask Mr. Fiske how many of these projects did you represent on, that presently fall under the private road catagory that are not being plowed?

    It also goes to a lack of concerns with in the town of Sandwich by the various departments that allowed this problem to get to the level it is now. One should ask where was the oversite that allowed roadways to be put in place with no grading specifications, or catch basins to prevent enviromental road run off to contaminate our water supply.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  4. The private road issue is not uncommon in every town on the Cape and is related to many issues having to do with rapid growth. You could use the phrase over-development but that would imply that at the time urban Cape Cod was being turned into a bedroom community and a retirement community towns made long term management plans to account for all the roads being build. Sandwich is a rural, suburban, historic town which as we all know took a huge hit beginning in the late 1970's where rapid growth was concerned.

    Let's not forget that a huge factor is funding from the state. As many of us in government on Cape Cod know, almost all the funding formulas that apply to municipal services are not friendly to the Cape's unique, rapid growth issues nor do they return in adequate proportion Cape tax dollars to the Cape. Roads are no exception. Approval for local contribution reflects local politics and economic realities of our residents. Competing interests obviously pay a huge factor as well.

    Sitting on the BOS for the past going on 5 years now, this issue has come up frequently. From my perspective, and I see the reason to it, some measures such as the moratorium on taking private roads have been stop gap measures. Stop gap measures rarely provide a long term solution.

    Comprehensive planning is what we need. There are many moving parts to this issue as Jon and the previous writers point out. There are different levels of government involved. Thank you Randy for raising this issue.

    At the local level it will take the support of citizens when the planning identifies local funding options. The process is cumbersome now because of legal restrictions on pubic money being used for private road repairs. But with planning, that I see on the horizon, it is my hope we can quit kicking this can down the road (pardon my pun) and get to work on ensuring the roads through out our town are safe.

    Snow plowing is obviously related to the larger issue. Early in January the BOS will be addressing the roads issue in a regular meeting.

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  5. Mr. Johansen, Once again you go to your "bully pen". To you it is the fault of the buyer. Well, I am sure the buyer asked in most cases if the street was plowed and they probably even looked into it and were told that the streets were in fact plowed so that at very least fire and police could get through to the homes on the street. Many of the streets on the list do have sufficient room on either side for snow to be dropped. Many of them do not have turn around issues. So don't put everyone in one little bundle. Also, do you think that the Town is being fair to the Canvassback people? I am sure when they bought that they were assured that the road was plowed. You were quick to blame those who should have done oversight, but to be honest, everyone was wrong, and you know why; because everyone knew that it would only be fair to plow those streets for the safety of the public. I would be very unhappy having paid my taxes and visiting someone on a private street, then get a heart attack and in a snow storm and not have the fire department there until the street got plowed.

    You should take a page from Ms. Grundman. She did not blame, but rather sought out solutions, maybe you should too. Run for office and see how difficult these issues really are before you put blame on nameless people.

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  6. Carl Johansen would state to Bleeding Heart it is unfortuned that those whom purchased a house on a private road after the original development was sold out were perhaps never on board with all of the issues involving public safety with private roads.
    My Heart goes to them. Especially those whom may have not been the original owner.

    Some one has to take ownership of why it happened, not only here in Sandwich, but in many communities on the cape. The original concept of a private road , was just that, Attempts to prevent the general public from gaining access to water front property or some other public beach front.

    When the developers put together all of the plans and that was the situation in many of the early develpments , many of the requirements for the road construction were not followed, by the contractor and large oversites by the towns resulted in road beds not meeting the present criterie for plowing under the present guidlines established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    Had those private roads been built with the proper drainage, width, turnarounds and run off controlls we would not be having this discussion on many of the private roads not fit for plowing.

    You may want to call it a blame game I would like to look at it as whom should bear the cost of these disparities.
    For me it is the contractors that put together the planning of these developments that are legally not plowable under the present Guidlines from the state. The town cannot get funding from the state, as it is written now for private roads, so where does that leave us??

    Does the town share in some of the ownership for these sub standard roads, I would say yes.

    Does the contractor share in some of the ownership for these sub standard roads, I would say yes.

    Does the state share in some of the ownership for these substand roads,I would say yes.

    Do those that originally purchased the houses in these developments have some ownership, I would say Yes

    The overall lack of money by the town or state to make improvements must now revert back unfortunitly to those that are presently living under those pitifull conditions, where the roads need all sorts of changes to be legally plowed as defined under the present laws of today.

    I did offer a solution , perhaps you missed it.

    In order to legally plow any private road it needs to meet basic requirments and since those on the majority of the private roads are unable resolve those conditions as a group that the town take the roads and charge a betterment to each home owner that is fair for an extended period of time.

    Outside of the state changing the laws on roads, That may be the only unpopular solution for the town to take.


    On the other hand if those who presently are living on these private roads take it upon themselves to make the improvements reguired and maintain the roads, The town may plow them and the private road will still remain private and keep most public passage to a minimum.

    At present I do not see the will to do either one.

    The above you may not agree with,but these are the facts as I understand it.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  7. Private Road and Loving ItDecember 16, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    I am a private road homeowner. We all help with the maintenance of our road all year long. Thankfully we have multiple snow plow operators on our road as well. Most of the time we wait patiently for them to finish their snow plow jobs, but our road gets plowed as they return home, and before they get their much needed sleep. We all have, at least one, 4x4 vehicle that allow us to get out if we have to leave before the road gets plowed. If you live on a private road that is the what you have to do to make it work.

    To those private roads that have pot holes, take a truck or put a plastic sheet in the back of your vehicle, go with a shovel and get some of the reprocessed (road millings) out behind the Pop Warner field and fill in your pot holes. Rent a compacter, if need be, to compact the grindings. Just a suggestion.

    Living on a private road we all have well water and because we live so far from a fire hydrant we don't have to pay the water portion on our tax bills. We just have to hope that the fire department always keeps the town water truck filled so, if there was ever a fire on our street they could come and battle the flames.

    But we all chose to live where we are in Sandwich, and we all love it! My neighbors are awesome and we realize that we are in this together.

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  8. Carl Johansen would state to Private road and Loving it.

    It would appear that those on your private road have undertaking the task of working together for the betterment of the whole neighborhood. That you have understanding and caring folks around you is a great thing in today's society.

    However not every one has the taken the same efforts that you and your neighbors have done.

    I am sure, no matter any critical situation arising from not being plowed, would still be activitly undertaking by our dedticated Police and Fire Departments. In every town on the cape they have plans in place to activitly prevent any harm to citizens no matter the conditions of the roads, I believe Sandwich is no different.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  9. Live on a private road, it has snowed, road is unplowed, call 911 and guess who shows up to plow so the FD can get to the caller?

    The town of Sandwich DPW.

    So don't say we can't plow these inferior roads because damage to vehicles because the town plows them anyway when needed

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  10. Carl Johansen would state that another option may be available . After discussing this situation with another concerned elected citizen and that would be for the town to take out a Road Bond along with charging a betterment to the home owners. That would perhaps need a vote at town meeting, but could provide a solution long term to getting the private roads back to where they could be plowed on a regular basis. I expect if that were to occur then the road would revert back to a public way and take away the private designation.

    The road under the above would give control back to the town into the future and some may not like that idea at all.

    Where is MR. Fisk in this discussion??? What say yee, Barrister of Sandwich??

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  11. The Quick Queen of QuincyDecember 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Mr. Johansen, I don't think that a civil society that we can afford to take a chance that a senior or sick person with little mobility can wait for an ambulance, nor do I think that an ambulance and its occupants should take a chance that migh injur them. PLOW THE DAMN ROADS. You and I know its just money that is the crux of the problem and as usual the politicians as you blame the taxpaying citizens. Please do not run for office as one writer frequently suggests. I believe some of your arguments are heartless. I moved here over 35 years ago and my street has been plowed every year. Now we are told that they would not be. I will pony up but if my neighors do not agree then guess what, I lose and yes I may die as a result. We could save more money if you would get your neighbors to petition the town to make your street private and then you can maintain it. Or, maybe ask the downtown Main and Jarvis Street people to shovel themselves out....that would save us an awful lot of money. There are many ways to skin the cat, don't just pick on people that can not fight back. Remember, I love you as a man, but not as one who has a heart for people and their needs.
    God Bless you sir.

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  12. Carl Johansen would state to QQOQ please reread what has been posted. I completly understand the concern for those that may need medical care and a fast responce time I also share the same concerns. That is one reason why I mentioned what normaly occurs when a call is placed to the fire or police departments.

    Understanding that the road way is a private road and the likelyhood it may not be plowed requires the responding safety department to have a plow and or DPW Truck respond to the same address as well. I know of many towns here on the cape that do that as part of the proticall and I have been told we do that here as well. I will however verify that come next week to make sure on the factuality.

    Even if the town had the money to plow all of these private roads that are substandard by the written laws in place they are not required to do so. Now this is where Mr. Fitch could verify the legal obligation by the town in the above matters.

    Not withstanding a moral issue of concerns for the town to plow, that is another whole matter unto it self.


    I understand a public hearing on this matter is being contiplated by the Board Of Selectman, after the holdays
    That would be a good time to bring up and get all of the answers you may be looking for or not.

    If the board decides to not hold a public hearing, then those folks should partition the town to have one.

    May God Bless you as well

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  13. Unless residents living on private roads have paid less property taxes than the rest of us all these years, I don't see how the town can just stop plowing roads we've plowed in the past.

    The Town approved the design of these roads, now they find some of the roads to be substandard for not having turn-a-round for plow trucks? The Town denied approval to pave some of the roads, now they're refusing to plow roads that aren't paved?

    And you could debate which came first, the snowplow or the potholes for all eternity...

    Not plowing roads is a public safety issue and it could be an expensive safety issue at that. The Insurance Service Office (ISO) rates Towns on their fire protection capability. Once a house fire starts, it wouldn't take long for a house fire to spread to an entire neighborhood on a cold windy winter night. A large fire would also put firefighters and fire equipment at risk.

    Once ISO finds out a large number of streets in Town might not be accessible to fire trucks in a snow storm, they might downgrade the protection class code. A change in protection class code would cost EVERYONE in town higher insurance premiums. Even premiums on municipal buildings could increase as most towns only have one fire protection code.

    Never mind the cost, how can the Selectmen justify money spent or authorized to be spent on other things like the erosion issue in Town Neck, $50,000 gift to the Economic Development Council, possibly buying that landlocked property (off I believe Popple Bottom Road) and plowing that long road to that money pit of a golf course while refusing to continue to provide basic services like plowing private roads we've plowed since forever?

    Somewhere along the line Sandwich got away from providing basic services to existing residents. Snow plowing isn't exciting but it's essential.

    Not plowing simply is not an option. We need to look at creative ways to get the streets back in better condition.

    1. Fight for our fair share of State funds.

    2. Check into any State or Federal Grants for road improvements.

    3. Check into having work release inmates work on the roads - they certainly could fill potholes and trim tree branches.

    4. Review and revise the guidelines for streets without turn-a-rounds that were built to Town specifications.

    Plowing private roads is not only the right thing to do; it is the only way to avoid the loss of life and property that no doubt will result from not plowing roads.

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  14. The Quick Queen of QuincyDecember 17, 2011 at 7:14 AM

    Your solution of a bond issue needs, as you have indiated, a TM vote. Correct me if I am wrong, but TM is in May and I believe May is after the winter passes and the potential deaths of people exist. I can not understand why the Town has for years plowed private roads and made threats never acted upon suddenly decides to act to the harm of the elderly and sick. Yes, your idea should work, but why not have done it this past fall at that TM. Government should serve the taxpayers not harm the taxpayers. This is an item that should be discussed weekly by the Selectmen instead of wasting time talking about the length and frequency of meetings. This town is a fraying aglet that no longer fits where it should. Its leaders care little for its people. Its gadflys shout out ideas but never take the risk of running for office.

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  15. Yes, I live on a private road. My road is advertized by the town as public vehicle access from 6A to its conservation lands and it is. However, my neighbors and I maintain it ourselves. The road was always plowed until 3 years ago when, all of a sudden, the long time absence of a turnaround and the narrowness became important and disqualifying. The town's arguments were ridiculous. The issue was worked out and my neighborhood is now plowed. That's the experience that raised my awareness of this issue. I hold a strong opinion that plowing is a basic government service that should only be denied in extreme situations. I am supported by the fact that town meeting voted to authorize the service.

    This is where I part company with our leaders. In the cases I have heard about, the reasons (excuses) cited for denying plowing are not reasonable. I hope some of the residents on the affected roads will repeat their stories here.
    I would be equally unreasonable to say there should be no standards, but the line should be drawn very differently from where it is right now.

    As was pointed out by an earlier writer, the town can plow when it wants to. I wish our leaders had a "can do" attitude about this, but they apparently do not and that is wrong. Just re-read Linell Grundman's comments. It's great that she participates, but exactly what does she suggest be done beyond blaming development and begging for state money? I ask Linell to state unequivocally that there are no town owned roads that are "substandard", but get plowed anyway.

    Real life is always a valid consideration in a solution. Money is tight, but a municipal attitude adjustment will go a long way. Be more reasonable with the standards and be helpful where you can. Explain that the blade may have to be a tad higher in some places. Use reverse gear. Do the best you can. Do it now.

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  16. I forgot something. To those who suggest that blaming developers for poorly constructed roads is somehow productive or vindicating for our leaders' current position, you are wrong. In response to the suggestion that I may have represented a road developer, what are you implying?

    Since 1950, no private road has been approved for access to a house unless the road was designed in compliance with town written specifications. Once a design is approved, construction can proceed, but the work is subject to periodic scheduled inspections by the town engineer. The road cannot be completed and used as access for homes unless and until the town engineer verifies compliance with all town construction specifications. The final step is approval from both the town engineer and the Planning Board. The town is in total control of the process from start to finish. That's the law.

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  17. Carl Johansen would state to QQOQ perhaps if you were to file a Citizen's Partician with the town you just may be able to get some resolution to the problem you all are facing. It does not reguire any legal council and they have so many days to respond.
    It is also possible to have a special town meeting called, before the May town meeting, but given the late attempt to address this issue by those involved, it does make for a slim chance of any thing postive comming out of it. But it would still give every one some resource to get some action done and vent all of the dialog around this subject matter.

    As far as I am concerned I am an opinion maker, not a policy maker. To answer your question regarding running for office. Have you observed of late the present Board of Selectmen and School Committee meetings that members are being restricted in what they speak about??

    Individual power plays are not my cup of tea, I prefer to make my own opinions, good , bad or indifferant, use my Constitutional rights of freedom of speach to explore the fringe areas of government.
    For example the recent dialog you mentioned above in regards to how to conduct a meeting, in my opinion should be done behind closed doors and not take up town busines time.

    The fact that the leadership make a ruling and then tell every one that they do not respond to the public during public forumn and use that as an excuse to not answer has been stated in the papers over the past few weeks, as well as those that attempted to get answers when they came up to speak about the plowing of private streets.


    Well this past Thursday they found the way to respond with out answering the concerns I raised
    during public forumn, just to get the last word, after I sat down at my seat. I was not able to have any dialog and I expected non.

    This goes to being disinguous, as to what actually are the polcys they put in place

    It is to bad that plowing the private roads waited as long as it did before making there voices heard.

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  18. Just a thought I would like to throw out an idea about the way we snow plow and a possible solution. I think because we live on the Cape and we enjoy the snow/rain line to the rain side during many storms, its the big ones that catch most of us and cause our problems. One of the issues that causes problems plowing is the type of equipment the town hires on. Some of the smaller pickup trucks with blades just don't cut it moving the customary heavy wet snow we get. So if beefier vehicles were used....we would all be receiving better service during storms. As to those unpaved roads, I say the town should just launch its front end loader down at the dump and let it tackle those little dirt roads with no turn arounds. The front end loaders won't get stuck for sure and heck, they might even clear up some of those potholes that kill the little plows! I am kidding of course, however, the issue of undersized vehicles plowing is real. Our street is two lanes wide yet the small trucks just can't clear more than one pass down the middle. Jon, having watched you do battle with the planning board over the years..... this is a bit like David versus Goliath isn't it? Considering the law you provided (thank you very much!) I am curious as to how big the rock is in your sling? Tongue in cheek of course...

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  19. Greg my friend, thank you for a great post. Solutions folks is what we need.

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  20. I'll start with a point from another post that is my situation....(What is an adequate turn around? Oil trucks, delivery trucks, etc. are all able to back out of the end of the road with no issues even though it’s one lane and dead ends. There is no cul-de-sac or opportunity for an ‘easy’ turn around on our street without destroying wetlands or encroaching on neighbors properties.) Our road was build in 1976. It is a "T" street that is fed off of another side road. At the end of the longer part of the T there is a turn around so no problem....On the short side of the T ( that only ends up serving 1 house - there is not a turn around. Well guess what...the road was "approved" back when it was planned and houses were built. Now remember this is 1976. Fast forward to 1994 the town invents these "rules" that now must be followed to get snow plowed. [ guess what in that 1994 edict , there is not even a mention of turn arounds]. For some 17 years these rules were in effect??-- but plowing was always done on my street and I am sure on ALL the other streets. All of a sudden the hammer drops in 2011. As everyone else has mentioned , we did our "maintenance" cleared our brush, we have a fully paved 20 ft wide roadway and in addition, the so called buffers cleared. Now the end of the road without the turn around serving the 1 house is being denied. ( Oh... and did I mention that in 1994 there is no mention of turn arounds.) All these years the snowplows came and figured out how to drive in reverse. Tell me -- do they not use reverse when plowing the REAL streets?
    And as a side note... when all this started- one of the reasons the TOWN gave out was that THEY could not find enough contractors...yet the 55 or so roads CAN find contractors?????? If you ask around ..you will find out that those contractors in the past were all willing to plow for the town , but most of the time they were never called up and therefore not being paid, although they were all willing to do it. Let's hope that the Selectmans meeting in January puts this foolishness to bed. (and hope there is no snow before then).

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  21. Carl Johansen would state , Good morning Greg,

    I also live on a two car wide road, that during the winter months also only gets one width of a balde for the most part plowed. On the other hand when the roads are just at the beginning of the Snow storm it is given a chemical base,sanding that does prevent some build up from ice. These for the most part are done by the smaller trucks from the town or private contractors.

    Unfortunitly the drive ways are stacked and one with out a snow blower can find themselves in a hard place . That was one reason we decided when we moved here to obtain a four by four, which my wife operates to get through the tough snow days.

    I understand the constraints that the town is under with the budget process and the lack of funding to do an adequate job on most of the side streets, but for the most part every major road we travel on here in Sandwich has been plowed from side to side and bare salted roads.


    Your suggestion are worthy at looking at, but plowing in reverse has its limitations and can cause problems to the motors and front ends of the trucks

    The use of front end loader may be the best solution at this time for private roads where a large rig is unable to turn around in.

    It would be helpful if Mr. Fitch in fact was able to determine if the policy in place is a mandated policy from the state and if so how does one get around that policy for this winters plowing of private roads.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  22. In my internet search, one Massachusetts town had written and published on internet rules. One mentioned the turn around requirement. The requirement is actually for emergency vehicles. I am presuming most of the concern is with Fire Engines.

    Our street is sometimes plowed by a larger truck, but most of the time by a small truck even in larger storms. What gets me is that they go out on Sundays and sometimes pass by (I am so amused that I count) ten to twelve times before there is any significant accumulation. Then when there is eight or more inches, the stop coming by for much longer periods of time. On our street, large trucks often put down what Mr. Johansen calls the base, but sometimes its the smaller trucks. Our street is .9 miles longs and has over thirty homes. It is a public street.

    If I did live on a private road, I would be calling Mr. Pierce. He is up for re-election I believe and 55 roads with just a total of six people on those roads voting would mean 330 votes. I am sure where he will come down. As for the two that follow in the 2013 election, if you don't get them plowed this year, then I am sure by 2014 the streets will be plowed.

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  23. Let's face it, the town don't wanna plow them roads and so they won't be plowed. MMA no doubt gets the many new to the game of not plowing towns to pass the word on. Towns such as Sandwich are late in the game. All they want to do is save money, be damned the public. If they are running for office, vote them out if they allow this abomination to happen. Face it, when it comes to government you lose out unless you get involved and believe me you won't get involved.

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  24. Greg, though posted in a different thread, your last comment caught my eye. You state that in NH they by law can't plow a private road unless it is declared an emergency lane. I wonder if there is any similar criteria in Mass General Law. I'll check it out. Thanks.

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  25. Linnel, I am not an attorney or lawmaker, however, from my looking into this matter, it seems that what Massachusetts did relatively recently, was to say that private roads did not have to be plowed. Typically the Commonwealth leaves the bad stuff to the municipalities much like see no evil etc.

    If you look around the state, you will see that what Sandwich is doing is happening elsewhere. We are just doing it later than most. It saves money.

    There is a lot of hypocracy in this new policy in Sandich. For once, just come to the aid of the people. Can you imagine a 20 year lien on your house to get the roads plowed.

    I my be wrong about the MGL on this. Thanks so much for your concern. It is good to here from someone in charge.

    Just to let you know, I am Gregory. I don't care to be confused with Greg or is it as Greg.

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  26. Linnell, check NH laws Title XX Chapter 231 section 59.

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  27. Carl Johansen would state that the private road issue has been an ongoing diolog for the past several years and understanding some of what the challeges are for the town to plow just the public roads during heavy snow fall. Most towns employ several crews to handle the storms , Sandwich does not have the money nor the equipment to do that. This presently results in those that plow the public roads incurring marginal sleep hours that create many other problems and in some cases may violate how long one can actually be behind a plow . Keep in mind it takes several shifts working together to get the job done . That is a man power problem, which translates into a money problem

    So for starters, where is the added money going to come from ??

    One needs to also be aware that the damage to the vehicles being used is a dollar number that translates into less plows on the roads.
    The down time for these repairs alone results in less public roads being plowed and that increases the chances for a very serious safety issue overall.

    We hear in Sandwich, unlike some other towns do not have a place or parts to repair these plows in a rapid manner in house for the most part.

    Think about it from a different point of view .

    Your drivway is private property and we all pay the same tax rate, but the only that clears it is the ownwer and not the town.

    Yes it is unfortuned that the private road issue has taken so long to be resolved, but why do some private road home owners fail to maintain or keep the road way maintained for the purposes of plowing needs to be question as well.


    For every ones information the Fire Department does have policy where by if they go out to a private road that normally is not plowed that a plow will be sent to plow out the road for the express purposes that the engines may get some access.


    As a added note the town presently has a call out to private contractors to plow our public roads . I believe the trucks need to be at least one ton or better and one could say the pay is very good, considering our economy.

    Once again my heart goes out to those on the private roads, but that is a choice we all made when we moved here.

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  28. Gregory...such a great name isn't it? I don't think anyone will every think my sometimes caustic, gadflyian, right wing and from the heart blog comments are yours. You are obviously more polite than I am.... so you won't get stones thrown at you at the town well! I like my name Gregory but its a name I only heard when I was in trouble growing up..usually along with the middle and last name too if you know what I mean. So back to snowplowing for the curmudgeon Greg..... like all political decisions, and I do compare this action by the BOS to be very much like the 'Pay As You Throw' policy that they implemented. I think if we asked our elected officials just how many calls they are receiving or even emails on the new plowing policy, perhaps we can use the typical stardard used by our Federal Senators/Reps. If they get X number of calls on an issue they have their aide follow it closer. If they get XX number of calls, wow, you will see the on television speaking to the issue. The funny thing is I believe there is so much apathy that those numbers are truly low. I am not hearing much noise about this policy other than Randy's blog. I don't think it matters what the state law says, I believe, if the phone calls really started flowing in earnest, the town could find a way. Maybe I wasn't kidding about the front end loader. I am concerned for the folks who live on Kiahs Way or on a few of the other private roads I have had to travel to gather some good people who just can't drive anymore. Safety for this segment of our society should never be compromised. Perhaps we should put the GPS data to work and plot the location of our seniors without wheels. Perhaps Bud Dunham could designate someone in town government to receive calls from those folks who will be exposed to real danger without the plowing and plot the critical areas that need that front end loader. Please, I know how busy Bud Dunham is! Just thinkin that if we have time to GPS fire hydrants, its just another layer of data and it is data that has to be kept confidential, hence the protection of the town's good and hardworking employees could be the right tool. It might help make a decision on those critical roads. One final thought concerning our seniors without wheels. If they live on a private road that isn't plowed...they will never get the Council on Aging van or the B-Bus (DART now a days) to come and get them for critical appointments. I wonder if this makes the rock slightly larger for Jonathans' sling. Someone has to realize the impact of the decisions on this growing segment of our society. Much like my blogging friend Carl, if it wasn't for my snowblower, and the ability to use it, my feeling of anxiety would be tenfold. At this point in our history its hard to believe we would let folks fend for themselves. I know, I know, its all about the money.

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  29. Straight away Greg. It is "unfortuned" that Mr. Johansen puts money ahead of lives. This uncaring attitude and lack of civil responsibility to health and welfare goes beyond the pale. Governments were set up to protect our rights and to protect us from harm. You are right on the money when you say we should find a solution. If it were all about money, then why do we see such waste in the Town.

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  30. What makes this whole issue sad is that clearly it is about money (see post from the town expert). What makes this issue sad is that only Ms. Grundman is the only selectman that cares enough to see if this property can be worked out. What makes this issue sad is that in these hurting times, we build new public safety buildings but do not support the elderly and infirmed shut in their homes during storms. If I can help pay for a public safety building, a new library, a new Wing school, then why can't I pay for the plowing. Let's go for a bond issue to fix these roads and maybe charge interest only to those private roads that choose to opt in to a program where the town will fix the roads to bring them up to speed. I hope Mr. Tsakalos will plow his new roads himself if I must plow my own not being able to walk. Do any of the selectmen care about me (other than Ms. Grundman as she always cares and researches issues and comes up with solutions). We know that the Selectmen read this blog, why don't those who say nothing say something here. Huh!

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  31. I think that the poster who said that most folks don't care is right. But that fact does not make it right for the town to essentially kill people by not plowing. Do you believe there is a standby plow? Have you ever seen it? How much do we pay for it? Is the driver allowed to sleep?

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  32. Carl Johansen would state to poster 6;57 I have allready proposed putting out a road bond for this problem, You may want to go back in the history file and reread my concerns in this matter. It all comes down to money and I ask where can you get it to improve private roads so that they can be plowed???

    Greg I still have to shoval my driveway by hand, but a few concerned neighbors have provided some assistance when the snow is deep

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  33. Carl Johansen would further state to Mr. Hunt as our duely elected represenative ,

    Randy, some where in the states budget do they have any bills before the body that provide some relief to those private road home owners to get financial assistance to the towns or those private road owners to get the roads upgraded to todays specifications???

    How does the state look at the ownership of private road home owners, when it comes to matters of safety and plowing???

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  34. Lives on a Public RoadDecember 22, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    In my opinion Mr. J, the state does the old handoff to the municipalities. The law is set up so that the town CAN deny to have them plowed. They did not even have the strength, as did NH to make it illegal to spend money on substandard roads. Sandwich is very late in this game, and it is a game to implement such policy, and, of course, not in the summer when they don't meet very often, but just before the snow season. I can't wait to see the mess it creates when a large storm hits. They should do a Tim Tebow for "La Nina" Sorry for lack of a tilde. How do you do a road bond? For how long would it last. This makes the problem worse when it runs out. We need a final solution. I suggest to the 55 roads people that they flood town meeting when the bond issue for the Police/Fire station comes up. That will catch their eye. I am all for an Occupy Sandwich. Do it downtown during the Tourist Season until the town lifts the rediculous policy. By the way,I paid the private plower for the Town to swipe my drive a couple of times.

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  35. If I understand this plowing garbage, the Town will not give the people of East Sandwich a fire station, it won't plow roads, but it will build a public safety building in the wrong place, far from parts of East Sandwich. This is a real people's town. I love to live where the leaders don't respond on blogs, at meetings, or anywhere else. Do we the people deserve this. I don't care what the Selectmen think as much as I care what they say and the silence is deafining.

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  36. Carl Johansen would state to poster 6:29 as a matter for clarification.

    Where the proposal for the new police and fire building is going to be placed, is the central part of Sandwich. Look at like a wheel from a bike. The center or hub has the ability to support the rim or outside area of our town in a more efficient manner.

    No matter what ever is ever proposed, here in Sandwich it takes green dollars to get it acomplished.

    If we cannot get federal or state dollars to get the jobs done then the people have to pony up for the money needed. That means an overide, plain and simple. We can all shout to the cows come home, about all of the issues, we as a town face that reguire many dollars to recitify.

    One of the ways the federal and state get out of supporting programs they mandate the town to do, is simply step back, make a mandate and then tell the towns , quess what, we have no money , but you as a town must pay the bill, we promosed we would pick up.

    An over ride with the present financial demeaner of our economy is an unlikely happening, but one that will, may,be needed in the near future of Sandwich to survive as a town.

    I do know that I would support, such an undertaking, for the right reason or reasons.

    We are on the verge of losing our educational system here in Sandwich,Our infrastucture, along with several other elements that bring what ever money into this once rural town, unless we make some very serious long range and short range plans that actually have a purpose that can be supported.

    The leadership of our town speak about these plans like it is the holy grail, but in most cases, have failed the citizens by not including them in the process.

    Sorry for the rant, but is that not, what we all are doing anyway?? The big question, that you brought up, is who is listing?

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  37. Gregory and all,

    It looks like I have some homework to do. And I intend to do it. I remind all that on January 5th at the next BOS meeting we will be talking about the plowing policy. Paul Tilton, head of DPW will present. It appears that citizens will be allowed to speak to the issue as well. I like that approach. In 2008 when we explored the possibility of opening up East Sandwich Fire Station we had a public hearing and the place was packed. So please come and speak to this.

    The Mass Municipal Association has asked again this year for more money going to towns for municipal road upkeep. They did last year too and were successful in getting legislation passed that brought more road money to the towns, but obviously not enough. It is true that what is happening in Sandwich is happening other places. The state does need to recognize and compensate for infrastructure issues especially in these economic times when overrides are next to impossible to pull off. It is amazing to me that the state does not see the benefit of adequate municipal funding, but I guess it is just a numbers game really. At the local level we must do our best to create good policy and not provide a disservice to our citizens if we can help it.

    The stop gap measure of 2003 of not taking private roads into town mileage, while serving a purpose at the time, needs to be revisited. The Mass General Law prohibiting taxpayer money spent on maintenance of private roads would likely be a tall order to change at this point. It is my hope that we can achieve a comprehensive plan for all our roads that address practical terms and safety. The BOS will need the help and collaboration of citizens to achieve a new understanding and better policy. Please plan to attend the January 5th BOS meeting and voice your suggestions, observations, and solutions.

    Wishing all a happy and safe holiday season.

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  38. Carl Johansen would state Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to every one here on Randys Blog.

    Friend or Foe this is the time of the year when we can reflect on other good things in our lives and how blessed we all are to be still alive and surviving.

    Town issues, can with out question, cause some very interesting conversations. For most, it is part of the democratic process,which is to engage and express ones opinion.

    At times, we may be hurtful to one another in expressing our issues and that is never my motive for participating here. I however will admit that is how it may come across, that is not my intention, just to be clear.

    When the issues can be discussed in a meaning ful manner we all learn from the experience, hopefully,we, become better at expressing ourselves. Then the issues brought forward here, can have some resolution, that are open and honest in nature.

    Once again I wish each here, friend or foe a Merry Christmas and a better new year when the clock turns over into 2012

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  39. Carl, if I were a gambling person, I would put all the money I have that the station goes where the powers to be want it at the busiest corner of Sandwich far away from East Sandwich and also that the roads do not get plowed. How sick is it that we can't take care of those in need but can spend millions on brick and mortar which in less than20 years will cost us millions more. Wake up Selectmen, stop being selfish. To you Mr. Pierce, if I wanted to buy a 4 wheel drive, I could not afford it nor drive it at my age.

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  40. Article VII of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts states that “Government is instituted for the protection and safety of the people.” (This follows from the “promote the general welfare” clause of the United State Constitution.)

    One of the main reasons that we even have a government is blatantly obvious – to protect and provide safety for the people.

    I believe that our elected officials have taken an oath of office to uphold those constitutions. Isn’t that their reason for being? Isn’t that their job?

    If our elected officials take actions (or commit omissions) that go against the spirit and letter of those constitutions, wouldn’t this be a clear and simple case of dereliction of duty?

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  41. I like your line of thinking, Steve Barr. Just note that the MA Constitution pre-dates the U.S. Constitution by some 9 years.

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  42. There has been a lot of discussion about the cost of snowplowing on this blog. The question has been asked: Who’s going to pay for this?

    The first and obvious answer is that the people who live on the 55 private roads already have paid for this service. Some of the FY2012 taxes that are currently being collected are for snowplowing. For 14 years the town has collected taxes from the residents of the private roads and have plowed the roads. This year, those same residents are paying the same amount of taxes and the only difference is that they are not getting what they are paying for. The money collected is being spent elsewhere. Others are benefiting from those taxes. That is unfair.

    At the risk of being boring, I would like to do some math on this issue. Last year the town called out the plows 5 times according to the DPW. Private contractors were paid approximately $60/hour. My streets, when they were plowed, took about 6 minutes to plow. 6 x 5 = 30 minutes = approximately $30 spent by the town for all of last year to plow two streets with 9 houses ($30/9 = $3.33/house for all of last winter). If that were typical of the money spent last year, that would mean that all of the 55 streets cost the town, following my math, $1650. Just to be sure that I’m not underestimating, let’s double that amount to $3300 ($6.66/house for the whole winter). (I do this math exercise and extrapolation because the DPW either will not or cannot give a figure for the cost last year when asked.)

    My taxes are over $8,000. I am already paying my $6.66. But I am being denied what I am paying for.

    With a more than $50,000,000 annual budget, with more than $8,000 paid in my property tax, are you bloggers suggesting that I should pay the town (again) another $6.66 because I live on a private road? Get serious.

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  43. Repressed in East SandwichDecember 26, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    Steve, I use public streets that I do not live on to get to and from where I am going. I live on a busy public street. Am I paying for you?

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  44. I agree with 8:00 AM. We pay taxes partly for the repair and maintanence of all public roads. Unless Mr. Barr does not use public roads he should not complain about taxes. I feel that maybe the dPw should do as much of the work as possible to bring the roads up to standards and the go for a road bond to be paid off by the property owners over 20 years. For most people I would think that on a per year basis the cost would be worth it. Yes, the town was very cold and the selectmen very quiet. I can't wait to see the meeting next week where hopefully the public will be given a chance to speak their concerns without the usual "go by my rules" that the selectmen use at their open forums. They should remember that it is by the people for the people not by the selectmen by raising taxes and giving angst to all the taxpaying public.

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  45. Dear Repressed in East Sandwich,

    Allow me to do a hypothetical that might make this clearer: Let's say that in 1993 the town decided to plow Forestdale. In 1994 the town would (and did) add money to the annual budget to cover the cost of the new work. Also, the town would justifiably increase the assessment on the properties in Forestdale because they would now be worth more because of the value that the plowing adds to the properties receiving the service. You, me, everyone in town benefits. The town gets more money than the value of the service and that would cost me and benefit you by my assessment going up.

    Now fast forward to 2011: Let's unwind what was done in 1994: First we stop the service. Second, the budget should be lowered (why should you and I pay for something not provided?) and thirdly, the affected properties should be given an abatement or reassessed to reflect the fact that taking away plowing has made the property less valuable.

    Note: There are many lenders that will not lend money for a buyer to buy a property on a road that does not receive winter maintenance. If a potential buyers cannot get a mortgage, that makes the property worth a lot less.

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  46. Repressed in East SandwichDecember 26, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Its like not having any public safety building less than eight miles away. I pay for police and fire but do not get the full protection as does the downtown and Forestdale areas. I would rather have a heart attach in Forestdale than where I know live in East Sandwich. Notice the values here in East Sandwich are in some cases leveling out even climbing slightly. Suck it up, its being done throughout the state and why should Sandwich not do it. Frankly, I was on your side, but the more I thought about it, the more I see that these roads should not be plowed. I would actually save money--of course thanks to you that is! Try running for office, maybe if Forestdale people ran they might win.

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  47. Dear Repressed in East Sandwich,

    You say: "the more I see that these roads should not be plowed. I would actually save money"

    Unfortunately you are wrong because:

    1. The town is not lowering anybody's taxes - they are simply not doing something and still leaving the tax levy the same
    2. There is a very good possibility that the ISO will raise the insurance rates for ALL of the properties in Sandwich (including yours). That would include insurance on town owned properties that would result in you paying more in taxes. (See Jane Logan's post above on 12/16/11)
    3. Since the roads are "private roads open to the public", an accident on one of these roads will contribute to raising the auto insurance rates for all residents.

    In short, not only is not plowing not saving you any money, it is probably going to cost you and all residents of Sandwich many times whatever small amount is saved by the town.

    And, if, God forbid, someone dies this winter as a result of the decision, and the estate of that person sues the town, we all could end up with a gigantic judgement against us. (If the town is sued and gets a judgement against it, that needs to be paid by the "town" (translation: taxpayers).

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  48. Repressed is right. You should run for office this coming May and then Jane in 2013.

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  49. Station 2....what a laugh. There was a peoples petition to open or "man" that station. The woman who spearheaded the proposal got the signatures, the proposal passed at town meeting. People acknowledge the additional costs and and accepted them. The people told this town what to do with all, costs included, that comes with opening a fire station and the selectman said "they" couldn't afford it. That is not the point. I know my taxes are going to go up.....I know that and accept that. I told you what to do and this town decided to do the opposite. And......don't tell me the potential damage to vehicles plowing private roads. Use the private contractors you have hired. Any and all damage to the contractors vehicle is their responsibility.....period. Save money? riiiiight. If I remember there is an article last week stating my taxes are going up with or without plowing of any road. Pay as you throw, not plowing roads and the litte blue bag. The DPW should be careful not to wish its way out of a job.

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  50. to 8:47 I am in agreement with you. My point is that here in East Sandwich I am paying for that which I do not receive. Welcome to those who are in the club. Hopefully whomever runs against the next few incumbants will run on the discriminatory lack of services in this town.

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  51. So... private roads. Why do they exist, again? To keep people away, yes? You have a private road so that only its residents and their designees can drive on it, and yet everyone is expected to pay for plowing it? Frankly, I can't muster any outrage if the Town decides not to bother. Isn't it just one of those "careful what you wish for" things? You want private... there ya go, and good luck to you. Seems to me it can work beautifully, given the cooperative spirit embodied in the neighborhood of "Private road and loving it," above. Can't handle the privacy? Live on a public road. What am I missing?

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  52. Sam,
    There are many roads that are private only because that town has a moratorium on taking roads which would make them public. This has been the case for many years now. So, for many neighborhoods, it is not a choice.

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  53. Ah. That's what I am missing. Thank you, anon 12:38.

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  54. Dear sam the eagle,

    "Private roads" in Sandwich come in two "flavors": one is "private not open to the public" (The Ridge Club is a good example.) These roads are not now (and probably never were) plowed by the town.

    The other "flavor" is "private roads open to the public". The public can and does use these roads just as if they were town or State roads. In fact, it's almost impossible to tell most times whether a road is a town road or a private road.

    There are 295 roads (or parts of roads) in Sandwich which are designated "private". This winter the town is plowing about 125 of these roads. The town is not plowing about 50 of these roads. That leaves about 120 roads that the town never plowed (eg: The Ridge Club).

    There are mostly 2 ways that a road becomes a private road. When the road is built, if the developer wants a private road or wants to build certain types of properties, they promise the town that they will not need winter maintenance. The second way that a road becomes a private road is that the town says it will be that way. When my roads were built the town would not allow us to hottop the road because "we want to limit the amount of asphalt in Sandwich". So the road was constructed of process. The town forced roads into becoming private roads.

    This served many purposes: 1. the town would get more houses to tax 2. the contractors got to build houses without paying the extra money for asphalt 3. when the road needed to have the potholes filled, the town wouldn't have to spend a dime.

    Most people on private roads don't like the roads, but, for the most part, they're stuck now because of decisions made by the town. Private roads that are not paved have to be maintained often at the expense of the people who live on the road.

    The whole private road issue is the result of the decisions of the town. For 14 years the town plowed the roads that were made and designated the way they insisted (so that they could take in more money and spend less) and they did the plowing because they understood that they created the situation and it was only fair that they plow. Now they've decided to just turn their back on their own decisions.

    It's like they're saying: "We messed up. Too bad. You people that live on our messes: live with it. We're walking away"

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  55. Does anyone know how many of these streets do not meet the standards to be accepted by the Town? If there are some and they have been waiting for Town Meeting acceptance then don't you think we should except them from this dastardly deed of not plowing and making the suseptable to loss of limb and death. If they live in the hinterlands of East Sandwich they get a double dose of Town harshness.

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  56. As I understand it, the Town does not receive Chapter 90 funds for unpaved roads, but it would if those roads were accepted. To accept them would cause the owners of the roads to spend, quite a bit sometimes, to bring them up to par.

    How about having a blue ribbon commission delve into the options available to provide for a betterment process and let the Town pay for half of the repairs necessary with the additional Chapter 90 funds.

    Just a suggestion, a compromise of sorts, that will keep an open dialogue. I don't live on one of these streets, but I did when I first moved here. The realtor told me "don't worry, the
    Town will always plow them for the safety of the public". Hmm, wonder if I can sue.

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  57. Jesse,

    I believe you are correct about the Chpt 90 $$$. When the town used to take over roads there was State money to ease the pain. That money is gone. I believe that the town has not taken a road in over 6 years.

    Asking the people on a road to take on the full cost of bringing a road up to the new standards is not really a solution. I got an estimate for my little stretch of road and it worked out to over $100k for just 7 houses. And, with the sewer being talked about, who wants to take on that cost? If sewer comes to Sandwich we could all be looking at a new $20K mortgage.

    Linnell has a suggestion for a group to look at the issue and come up with a solution. That's great. But we need some thinking out of the box.

    In Sandwich, when it comes to funding something, it seems that the one solution is "Bank of the Taxpayer". That's just going to cost us more and more.

    I'd like to see a more "creative" solution. Take a page from some of the bigger cities. Take Boston, for instance: if Mayor Menino were mayor of Sandwich he would get all of the private roads paved and accepted by the city without spending tax $$$$. It is possible.

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  58. Mr. Barr, please share how it possible for Sandwich to take all the private roads without cost. This one I would like to hear.

    As I have read that few people actually know what a private road is and what can and can't be done on one. As best I can determine, a private road is private in ownership. The owners set the rules such as parking areas, speed, stop signs, and may put up a "no tresspassing sign, otherwise it is open to the public. If it is open for the public's use, then let's just take out a bond and move on*.

    *take out a bond only if we can't get it done for no cost as Mr. Barr has stated could be done.

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  59. Dear Anonymous (12/28: 6:52)

    "Private" roads - unless "closed to the public" are really public roads.

    If the private road gets the designation "closed to the public" (ie The Ridge Club) then it can be gated and closed and really private.

    A "private open to the public" road is really just a public road that the residents are forced to fix and possibly plow.

    Example: Kennsington Drive (from Quaker Meetinghouse Rd going north) is a "private open to the public road" for a few hundred feet. Someone recently put up a "Private Road" sign. When I asked the DPW if the dozen or so people who own that little piece of the road could put up a gate the answer was: "Absolutely not. They could petition to do so but it would be denied. There are hundreds of people that use that piece of road everyday."

    So best I can figure is that the "rights and privileges" that you get when you live on a "private open to the public" road is that you have the "privilege" of fixing the road and plowing the road yourself and, it seems, you get the "right" to pay for a sign that says "Private". (I don't know what the purpose of the sign is - it doesn't seem to change anything. But whatever floats your boat.)

    There is another thing that has happened here that has not been mentioned on this blog. Lots of talk of the town taking roads. But in the past the town has actually "abandoned" roads. One example: Kiah's Way. That used to be a "major" street in town. It is now a private road that won't be plowed this winter.

    There is precedence for the town abandoning roads. Is the taking away of plowing the proverbial "camel's nose in the tent"? Could the town start a program of abandoning roads? Before you yell out your "That'll never happen" response, remember: that's how us "noplowees" would have responded a couple of years ago about losing plowing.

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  60. Ok here's an idea for the better use of time for the employees of the DPW. Wasn't meant to sound so sarcastic. At any rate the town now has a hazard behind the Pop Warner field. That hazard is the "mountain" of road material that kids are using as there personal play ground. (Can you say injury/law suit?) So instead of our DPW crews installing split rail fence all around town, why not put those crews to a better use? Take the "lawsuit" road material and fill the pot holes on our private roads, that are used by everyone? Gee simple and cost effective, the job is done on the clock and the material is free. Any thoughts? Unless the town enjoys lawsuits.

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  61. Dear Solution, maybe?,

    That pile of planings is free to residents to fix potholes on roads in town. I have gone there myself and filled up buckets to do just that.

    Unfortunately, town employees cannot work on private roads. I believe it's a State law.

    Those planings actually make for a very nice road after a few years of adding to the road over time. They "melt" and mix with the process to make a road that is very nice.

    I'm not sure how much of chance of a "lawsuit/injury claim" there is from having that pile there. I think the sign that says something like "authorized persons" is their out on a suit.

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  62. I live on a 1 lane dirt road close to the beach with 9 houses and a dead end with no turn around - and virtually no traffic.

    It's rare these days to not live on some paved cookie cutter cul-de-sac - and I love that I'm lucky enough to live in such a special place.

    I don't understand why anyone would be interested in changing the nature of these types of roads to comply with what amounts to a few inches of snow on average per year. All other services have no problem accessing our homes.

    Private contractors are more than willing to plow and yes, it's above and beyond my taxes but I'll pay the couple of hundred bucks or so per season in road maintenance in the name of preservation. (where is the historical commission in all this?).

    Bringing my road up to town standards would be like widening historic 6A - and making it a 4 lane highway to relieve summer weekend traffic.

    It's sad the town has opted to disrupt the basic plowing service to save a few bucks...

    With all that said, I do generally agree with Steve's efforts and points and any safety issues.

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  63. 8:52 As Randy might say, "I don't have a horse in this race", but I do have one comment on your post. A few inches of snow? Do you live on an isolated patch of the Cape. I think if you look back the last ten years, you will find a few where we actually had more than Boston area. My hope is that the Town will continue to plow although I do not see where it has to do this.

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  64. Yes, I must live in an isolated patch of the cape where the snow usually ends up as sleet or rain. In the 11 years I've lived here, the road freezing over has presented a bigger issue than pure snow. With that said, it has been plowed for sure - I suppose the term 'few inches' is up for debate. Other than one major storm years back I don't recall getting hit regularily and at the same levels like boston or even Plymouth.

    I have a snowblower for the driveway and it get's relatively little use - I think I used it once last year (or maybe that was two years ago).

    Does not matter, my point is I personally would prefer not disrupt the unique nature of some of these neighborhoods and their dirt lanes. The amount of snow and plowing (and what is deemed plowable) has not been an issue in the past - the town's new rules and termination of service is the issue.

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  65. One key piece to this discussion is that on private roads, open to the public or not, it is up to the people living there to decide what they will do in terms of maintenance. For years, people have come before the BOS to talk about the dangers of their poor roads. But those same people often can't get all the neighbors together to form an "association" and split costs for road repair. The town can't force people to do this. The town can propose a "taking" but it is complicated and sometimes costly to the people who live on the roads.

    The town stopped taking all private roads in 2003 when funding from the State went way down. It was obviously a cost cutting measure, but is also related to the various laws about not spending public money on private roads, etc. As I've said before this was a stop gap measure in my opinion. Though merited, stop gap measures rarely work long term.

    While safety is an issue, it is very much incumbent that the home owners on the road want to seek solutions. I would say the solutions will be "road by road." People like anon. 11:04, Dec. 29 don't have to give up their rural environment.

    This is an excellent dialog. I thank you all for your input. I hope at the next BOS meeting on January 5th we can gain even more understanding.

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  66. Carl Johansen would state.
    Roads are listed under three catagorys

    Public
    Private/public
    Private/ no trespassing

    Each catagory has its own set of rules when it come to plowing

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  67. Linell your description of it being up to the owners of the private road is exactly what happened on Kensington Road. One or two of the owners in that small segment leading into the Canterberry area tried to gather the necessary support along that deteriorating section of the street. Their efforts came to a screeching halt with most of those houses. They would not give a penney. They honestly believe the town will eventually repair the road. So that road sits, getting worse during each rain storm. I don't think the town will refuse to plow that section inspite of the Private Road signs recently placed on each end of this small section of road. The funny thing is, since that last effort to pull the owners together in that section, probably half of the homes have been sold and the new owners were or are in the dark about the reason the road is in such poor condition! I guarantee that not one real estate representative touched on the subject with the buyers. There is no requirement to. When all of these small developments were built we all agreed to the covenants of our villages. When Four Winds Village was built we all agreed to the cost of the road taking, it just made sense. That tiny piece of Kensington already existed and was not part of the village even though the sign was posted on Kensington at the corner of QMH Road. That little piece of road wasn't bad 30 years ago but now, I am not sure anyone has the answer due to the extreme cost of repairing it to have the road taken. I wonder if it would be possible for a town lottery. A one time list of street names placed in order, drawn from a lottery, to be taken by the town and repaired. Considering cost, maybe one small street per year could be programmed into the DPW's budget. If we were to start the process this year, heck, it would only take 50 years to get them all done. At least there would be a plan to take them and put them under the towns control. Sounds a lot like what we need for our aging buildings doesn't it? Hmmm, I guess this idea doesn't stand a chance either. In a way it all reminds me me of 'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson. Some things we just keep on doing because we long ago forgot why we do.

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  68. To the poster of 6:49. You should try to be more precise. I think you meant to write that "these are the three catagories that are under discussion in this blog" (even though it has been mentioned several times before).

    I am not an expert, but I think there are many other types of roads.

    Alley, Arterial Road, Avenue, Backroad, Boulivard, ByWay, Collector Road, Court, Cul-de-sac, Dirt Road, Frontage Road, Highway, Lane, Road, Route, Single Carriageway, Street, Winter Road, Parkway, Expressway, Turnpike, 2+1 Road, 2+2 Road, Farm to Market Road, Autobahn, Auto-Estrada, Autopista, Autostrada, Autostrasse, Controlled Access Highway, Freeway, High Quality dual carriageway, Interstate Highway, Limited Access Highway, Motorway, Super Two, and Multi-Modal Road.

    I did not know that all these catagories existed, but I did MY homework.

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  69. Carl Johansen would state to poster 9;00.

    Very good describtion of all the terms in determining what are roadways.

    You should have looked at the last sentence, that all road ways are placed in three catagories for PLOWING purposes here in Sandwich and in the majority of the Cape Towns

    So far. we have not been speaking about those private roads that have signs posted Private/No trespassing on them.. We have been only addressing the Private/ Public roads that are not getting plowed here in Sandwich

    When you find out, what the Commowealth has for language concerning plowing under those three catagories. You could post it here ,for all to see. We are only speaking about what the law States, not the moral issue of not plowing some roads, that have fallen into disrepair because of a lack of maintence, by what ever party involved.

    By the way, you missed underground tunnel roadways,

    Now smile

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  70. You are wrong again.

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  71. Mr. Johansen, I believe you erred when you asked that I read the last sentence to find something other than what you say is in it on your last blog entry. You should re-read your posting. You should also see that I mentioned (thus understood) that we were discussing the three catagories you mentioned on the board. My point is that there are many other road catagories not just three. I was smiling when I wrote it. Don't be so sensitive. I was not the least bit critical.

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  72. Carl Johansen would state You all have a nice new year here in Sandwich and 'ditto'as well on the smile.

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  73. Mr. Johansen, I am annonymous who proclaimed "dittos" to the one whom I believe thinks does not smile. I don't live in Sandwich and moved out because of the rediculous bantering that goes on like people not understanding that their roads should not be plowed if they are private. I believe you should re read your postings as well as those you ask to re read.

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  74. To Ditto: Mr. Johansen always points out to one who has called him on this blog and tells her to re-read. Then when one re-reads, more often than not, it did not have to be re-read because the call was accurate. I saw that in your post. Just let it ride. And for the smile bit, he does that when he thinks he's right and that you are wrong. I seldom see him smile.

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  75. The Sandwich Board of Selectmen's meeting of 1/5/2012 will be addressing the winter maintenance issue. According to the agenda "constructive public input (will be) allowed"

    "Constructive Input" would seem to mean suggestions of solutions to the problem. It seems to me that the BOS has heard from the people and are now looking for a way of resolving what has become a problem.

    I am hoping, if given the opportunity to address the issue, to suggest that the decision to cease the plowing be held in abeyance. The roads have been plowed for the past 14 years and continuing the plowing until a solution can be found doesn't seem unreasonable.

    While the decision is on hold, a concerted effort needs to be made to find a solution to this issue. This doesn't seem to be "rocket science". There should be enough intellectual horsepower in Sandwich to find an answer to this problem.

    Right now there are government regulations that are standing in the way of some possible solutions but I am sure that there are other creative paths that could be explored for solving this issue. Many other places don't have this issue, could a little research produce possible solutions?

    I would like to see a solution that does not add to the real estate taxes in town and I feel strongly that such a solution exists.

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  76. Mr. Barr, I hope you fail because that would mean my property, which is similar to yours will be worth more.

    As for getting up to speak, my guess is that one person will be among the first and it ain't you.

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  77. Dear Anonymous (1/3/12 - 1:37PM),

    Thank you so much for your kind words of support and encouragement.

    It's a shame that you feel you have to wait for my failure to achieve your goal of a more valuable home.

    I think I can help you out in your quest to increase the value of your property. I may have discovered a path to achieve this. This year my property is worth 10.77% more (assessed value) than it was last year. And with the total tax rate going up 9.19% I now have the privilege of paying 15.53% more taxes this year than last year.

    What I did was to file an abatement last year. This seemed to trigger a reassessment. Amazingly, without doing anything to my house since the last assessment, the house managed to get better. The "Quality" of my house went from "Good" to "Good+" - I guess wine is not the only thing that gets better with age.

    My method is open to all taxpayers. Anyone is free to avail themselves of this technique. Abatement season is now open and lasts until February 1, 2012. Good luck with your quest.

    On your other point, concerning the order of the speakers in the queue for the winter maintenance issue at Thursday's meeting, again I wish to thank you for the information.

    And, finally, I would like to wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

    s

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  78. Hey everyone, I have a solution. Because the roads are private does not mean that the Town should plow them just because of Safety Concerns. If you have a long driveway, then why not just ask the Town to plow it? Or better still, fix the roads! Hopefully tonight at the Selectmen's meeting we will find out if the Town can tell us how many of the roads can be brought up to standards just by having each homeowner fork over some money. They should also have the number of streets where roads may be up to standard but because the entry into the owner' neighborhood is not up to standard (seems quite unfriendly and unfair to me). Hopefully the Town can tell us why they have lied to us about the real reason for not plowing.

    All this being said, I think that each street can have its own solution. This may include snowblowing their own portion of the road, having it plowed, setting up a maintenance agreement. A maintainence agreement would be best in my opinion because having it filed at the Registry of Deeds might help with property values. Frankly, I don't think property values wioll be negatively affected because those roads must be plowed, and let's face it, sometimes fires and other emergencies happen when the public roads are not plowed. The red herring of loss of value is much greatly exagerated.

    Lastly, I would like to ask, has anyone ever heard the term buyer beware?

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  79. Dear Anonymous 1/4/12: 1:47 PM,

    You said: "Because the roads are private does not mean that the Town should plow them just because of Safety Concerns".

    I think you might be missing one of the main reasons that the government even exists: to provide for the public safety.

    This is in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    Our elected officials have pledged an oath to uphold and support that constitution. One of their main duties is to provide for public safety. That's what they were elected to do.

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  80. To Mr. Barr re:1/4/12/ 1:47

    Yes, it is to protect and if you win, then I will propose they plow my 200 foot driveway, it'll save me a few bucks.

    Anyone is free to use my driveway.

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  81. Good Morning Folks!

    Mr. Barr I applaud your efforts, but the many people in town government, with the possible exception of Ms. Grundman, are at best difficult to have a discussion with unless it benefits their own interests. That being said I still strongly believe that the DPW SHOULD repair Kensington as it most definitely is a public way although stated as Private. I think this would be the right thing to do. A day, if that, to dig out the fill material that is there now, put a binder in, if needed to hold the reprocessed, and then compact. A crew of 3 and a police detail. Just my opinion.

    The other thing that has gotten me thinking is the road, which is now private, from Route 130 beside the Rod and Gun Club and between Waste Management and Amidon, that runs behind the Coca-Cola Plant out to the power lines to Bevilaqua's and into Jan Sebastian. The SEIC wants this to become an actual road, I'm assuming that means surveyed, widened (?), paved etc. If so, I hope they don't plan on this becoming a town road, since the town no longer adds private roads. I also hope that the $50,000 they got at town meeting isn't going to be used in any way to survey, engineer etc. for this road, because in a round about way that would mean the town is helping a private road become public.

    Well to all attending tonight's BOS meeting, I hope the selectman don't shut down the discussion on you!

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  82. Dear Solution, maybe? 1/5/12 9:24 AM,

    That short piece of Kensington Dr is a perfect example of the problem. There are hundreds of houses, in behind, that use that piece for access. There is a lot of history behind why that little stretch (about 3 football fields long) is still private.

    Unfortunately, even though you have a great suggestion, I believe that the town is prohibited from spending money on "private" property. That law may be worth looking at but, as of now, it is what it is.

    But is that stretch of Kensington really PRIVATE? There's a sign that says so. There's probably something in the deeds that says so. The town says so. But the town designation for that small piece of road is: "private open to the public". I contend that until a road is prohibited to others, then it is not really PRIVATE.

    Things in life are not always consistent either. If we get a major snow storm and that piece of Kensington is not plowed by the abutters, that would take an access road away from hundreds of homes. The town is willing to let that happen. So I asked the town: "If that little stretch of Kensington is private and you're willing to let it become impassible for snow events, can the dozen or so residents put up gates and have a real private area?" The answer I got was: "Absolutely not. They could try to petition the selectmen to do that but the petition would be rejected because that is an access road."

    This is crazy. It's called a "private" road but the residents can't make it exclusive and the town has control over the use of the road. Seems like the town wants it both ways. If a road is really private, then why not allow it to have a gate? Why does the town get to dictate the use of a "private" road? Why? Because, I contend, the road is not really PRIVATE.

    On your other point: I have spoken with a town official who told me that the SEIC is thinking of applying for grant (I believe from the State) to take that piece of Kiah's Way from the gun club on Rt. 130 to some point near the quarry. The thinking is to convert that piece of private road to a public road (town owned and plowed). Allegedly, none of the money to accomplish this would come from tax dollars. The figure that is being thought about for this project is $5,000,000. (That is not a typo. $5 million is the amount I was told was being suggested for the grant. (If this happens that's gonna be one great road!))

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  83. Mr. Barr, I sometimes have "no life" and search the internet however I almost never save or print what I find. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do it today before tonight's bloodbath at the Selectmens' meeting. But, I did read somewhere that the Town can in fact take a road that is in the public's interest. And, I believe the same internet source, a newspaper article, did say that the owners of a private road can choose to make up the rules such as no tresspassing etc. which leads me to think they can gate it. The Town would win out by saying it is essential that the way be open, but then I believe the laws will allow for them to take it over or at least to fix it. There is now a "private road" sign on the property. This absolves the owners from being sued.

    Good Luck Tonight---hopefully the Selectmen will understand that those who speak first should be those that are opposed as opposed to someone who may "have the answer" (as some always think they do) and lives on a public road. I hope the "regular" first give the upset private road people a chance.

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  84. Anonymous 1/5/2012 1:09PM,

    I sincerely hope that the meeting tonight does not turn into a "bloodbath". If it degenerates into a nasty, finger pointing, yelling gripe session, I feel that the BOS will simply close down discussion and no progress will be made tonight.

    The BOS is looking for "constructive input". That means suggestions that can help solve the issue. Getting to this point, I feel, is a giant leap forward from where we were just weeks ago.

    Complaining about the decision not to plow, or the DPW or the Selectmen will not accomplish anything or move us closer to a resolution of the problem. Similarly, the people who think that it is their duty to take the mike and yell: "You live on a private road - too bad - I don't want to pay for your plowing - stop complaining", those people will be adding no "constructive input".

    As I see it, I would like to see two votes on this issue tonight:

    1. a mechanism set up to research the whole street issue and to formulate a solution (This should be non-controversial.)

    2. that the town hold its previous decision in abeyance and continue the plowing as it has for the last 14 years until the group/committee/Selectmen come up with a solution. (I suspect that this may be somewhat controversial.)

    Regarding the taking of private roads: It comes down to money: In the past there used to be State funds to do takings. Those funds have dried up and will probably never come back. It's been over 6 years since the town has taken roads.

    A private road can still petition to be taken by the town right now but the road must be brought up to the new and latest standards. These standards have gotten more and more expensive to implement. (It's not just the roadway. It's also drainage and edging and runoff, etc.) To build a road today is a lot more money than just a few years ago. And before a road can petition for acceptance, all the work has to be done, according to the new standards. under the watchful eye of the town engineers and at the expense of the abuters.

    There may be a private road somewhere in town where all of the residents have a spare $25,000+ that they are dying to give to upgrading the road so that the town can take it. Such a road may exist, but I haven't heard of such.

    One other point you made: I don't believe that a sign will absolve one from being sued. It may be used as part of the argument in a lawsuit, but people can and do sue for all sort of things. A lot of suits get thrown out of court. But it's amazing some of the things that courts award. (Remember the lady with the hot cup of McD's coffee in the lap? Didn't she get millions?)

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  85. Mr. Barr (9:24),

    Interesting so the town "can" take a private road and make it public when they want to, as is the possible case of the road behind the Coke Plant. I guess private road folks will have to get a grant for $5,000,000 to fix their road and then and only then will the town make their road a public road and plow it.

    By the by I too have spoken with folks in town and part of the SEIC that say the road will in fact be made to connect with the end of Jan Sebastian not to just the Quarry!

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  86. Just as right now as was right about last year's illegal school meetingJanuary 5, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    I believe that Chapter 40 Section Section 6C reads:

    "A city or town that accepts this section as provided in Section 6D may appropriate money for the removal of snow from such private ways within its limits and open to the public use as may be designated the city council or selectmen; provided that for the purposes section twenty-five of chapter eighty-four, the removal of snow and ice from such way may not constitute a repair of the way."

    I believe that Chapter 40, Section 6D reads;

    "Section 6C shall be submitted for acceptance to the registered voters of a city at a regular city election if the city council thereof so votes, and a town at an annual town election upon petition of two hundred registered voters or of twenty percent of the total number of registered voters, substantially in the form of the folowing question which shall be placed on the official ballot used for the election of officers at such city or town election:

    Shall the city or town vote to accept the
    provisions Section C of Chapter forty of
    the General Laws, which authorize cities
    and towns to appropriate money for the
    removal of snow and ice therin open to
    use?

    If a majority of votes in answer to said question is in the affirmative, then said section thereupon shall take full effect in such city or town, but not otherwise."

    I believe the Chapter 84 Section 24 reads:

    The board or officer having authority over public ways, shall, if the public safety requires, cause such ways where they enter upon and unite with an existing public way or may by other sufficient means caution the public against entering thereon; otherwise the town shall be liable for damages arising from the defects therein as in the case of ways duly laid out and established.

    I am not an attorney (thank the Lord), but I would think that by reading all of the garbage, the town does have a right not to plow private roads if it so chooses as long as the reason is that it does not have to repair such roads. To me this is plain and simple. It is apparent to me that the town also has a duty to get to the citizens to conform with the Massachusetts Constitution to protect its citizens. By having some kind of a system where there is standby equipment, then the town would be adhering to the constitution. My guess is that the folks that live on these private ways just don't want to pay so that they can get a free ride to their home such as the people on public wasy do.

    I think that what is important is that those who go to the meeting tonight where the Selectmen will try to resolve issues brought up be constructive. It is important to remember that legally, the Selectmen can not authorize repair of such private roads. Again, this is the law, plain and simple.

    The arguments about insurance and past practice, while some might think important, have no value because for the selectmen to HAVE to repair seems to be out of the question unless maybe they could do what Plymouth did and try to pay for some of the repairs through a Home Rule Petition of the General Court.

    I am ordering popcorn and having a couple of beers while I watch tonight. I can't wait to watch.

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  87. Dear Solution, maybe (2:08PM),

    I'm not sure that the town can just go and "take" a road as in eminent domain.

    This Kiah's Way road/project has a lot of other pieces. I'm not sure who owns that piece of road now because at one time it was a town road that was allegedly abandoned, according to my sources. If in doing so, did the road revert back to a private road and ownership go back to the abutters? If that is the case, will Landers or whomever owns this get paid (retail?) for their land? This should keep a lawyer busy for a while.

    If the road does go to the back of Industrial Park then, I presume, some of the justification for this may be the proposed treatment plant back there.

    Why is it that I smell a tax increase in my future relating to the buying and/or operating and/or using of that plant? (Sorry for the pun.)

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  88. Mr. Barr 3:07,

    The reason for the road is when the two pits, Cape Cod Aggrate and PA Landers are finally "mined" out, the hope is that there will be potential buyers of those properties who will build various business ventures. The properties will be sold as close to highway, easy on and off cape access etc. If say a manufacturing facility is built, or office complex those buidlings would help with tax revenues etc.

    My understanding of the treatment plant is that it will go out behind the current industrial park and between Quaker Meetinghouse Road on currently town owned land. If that is the case the Canterbury neighborhood will have some potential wonderful odors wafting by their homes. (Repairing Kensington will be a mute point then, since people will leave the neighborhood.) From everyone I've spoken to treatment plants aren't odorless, especially on a large scale. The SEIC is promoting Sandwich as business friendly and the long term plan is to develop the two pits behind the Coke plant for businesses.

    By the by the companies on the road behind the Coke do handle all the grading of that road, not the town.

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  89. Mr Barr,

    Sorry when I said "take" a road I was being "funny". If the road is currently private and $5,000,000 worth of upgrades are made it would have to remain private since the town has stopped taking on private roads?

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  90. Solution, maybe? 1/5 4:18PM,

    When they say to the end of the Industrial Park, do you think they might go a few more feet and meet that 47.5 acres of landlocked developable land? Is that where the treatment plant is going or are there other plans for that?

    Not wanting to get off of the snowplow focus of this blog, but just a short aside, I used to fish not to far from Deer Island. When the old plant was there you could only fish downwind. The stench upwind was bad enough to gag a maggot. The new multi-billion dollar plant stinks a lot less. Billions of $$$ = a lot less. I wonder how much it would take to = no stink?

    I'd guess the formula for treatment plants is:

    amt of stink is inversely proportional to the cost

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  91. Mr. Barr,

    My understanding is yes the road would help to connect with the land locked portion. That is why the town/SEIC made a big deal of talking to property owners in Jan Sebastian. However a very significant number were unaware of the towns intention for the plant to go out there. And did not get invited to a meeting discussing the treatment plant plans.

    I do agree the plant will have a stench, it is yet to be determined how bad it will be.

    Good luck tonight! The agenda says 15 minutes for public formun on the snow plow discussion. Suggestion if you want to speak have someone you know that the BOS doesn't know so they will get called to speak and they can in turn turn there moment to speak over to you. Folks that are known to the BOS are often not called upon when a "sensitive" subject is going to be discussed in open forum.

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  92. Carl Johansen would state to MR.Barr

    Out of the three catagories listed Public,
    Private /Public
    Private/ No trespassing is the only one public moneys can not be used for under MGL.

    I find it interesting that you mention Deer Island in posting about sewerage treatment .

    I also have fished in and around Deer Island, Moon Island and the plant near German Town.

    One can say that in todays world the smells are far less obnoxoius then in the time, before they updated Deer Island. The worst one was horse heaven, where on a given day the whole island would be aflame, as the bodies from the dead horses wnet up in flames.. One thing was that the fishing was allways fairly good, and as the old saying goes, if you can get by the smell you had it licked.

    Did you come out of Lynn or Winthrop?

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  93. This evening, the Sandwich Board of Selectmen took 3 votes related to the issue of "winter maintenance"/snowplowing. The votes were:

    1. To take back the authority of the DPW to make the final decision of whether to remove a road from the plowing list
    2. To overturn the decision made this year and to continue this year to plow the roads that were plowed last year

    Both of these motions passed by a vote of 3 to 1: Mr. Pannorfi voted "no" on both motions; Selectmen Keenan, Pierce and Vatacco voted "yes". (Selectman Grundman was not present at the meeting.)

    This means that the streets that were plowed last year should be plowed this year (unless the road has deteriorated so much in the past year that it is unplowable).

    I believe that a 3rd vote was taken to form a committee to find solutions to the road issue. Jim Pierce volunteered to head this committee. I will check later and find out if it were voted on or not.

    Tonight was a victory for all of the people in this town who called, wrote and emailed the selectmen on this issue. Tonight was a victory for democracy and fairness.

    I want to personally thank all the selectmen that supported us and all of the people who spoke at the meeting and all of the people who have supported this fight.

    I would like to collect ANY suggestions that anyone might have that could move this whole issue forward. Even if the suggestion relates only to one street, I would like to hear it. I will compile the suggestions and make sure that it is passed on.

    It was mentioned tonight that there are many different issues and many that are street specific. For instance, Joslin Lane has a gate across the end of the street. Mr. Pannorfi mentioned at the meeting that he lives on the other side of the gate. The plowing of Joslin Lane could be solved by giving access to the gate to the DPW. (The town plows the road on the other side of the gate.) There are other issues like this that should be easy to solve.

    Thank you,
    steve barr

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  94. Mr. Johansen,

    I fished the whole harbor but mostly out of Weymouth, the gas tank, Hingham or Hull. I lived in Boston and towed to different ramps. The pogie boats used to set just off of Deer Island and they would dump a scoop of pogie into our boat.

    One of the best kept secrets is how good the fishing was in Boston Harbor. There are so many islands, rocks, holes, weed beds, mussel beds - structure of all kinds that I could be anywhere in the harbor and be able to see at least 6 other "hot spots" that had produced in the past.

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  95. Vitaco is absolutely correct in making his "customer service" analogy. While the DPW is trying to shed responsibility, every other department in town is doing more with less. I didn't agree with the library folks about a second library in town but they were begging to take on more work. Has anyone heard the police department say no to additional services (setting state and federal law aside)? Schools ask to do more, Recreation department asks to do more, Department of Natural Resources asks to do more, Human Services (Senior Center) asks to do more......shall I go on? One basic customer service tactic is this, don't tell the customer what you can't do, tell them what you can do. Without those actual words being spoken last evening, I believe that point was made.

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  96. I am not trying to stir up trouble here.. but I am wondering a few things about private roads. If they are "private" what does that mean? And, what are the pro's and con's to living on a private road? Do you pay less in taxes? I am wondering about this, again, not to stir up emotions or get people mad, but I would think that by "private" it would mean that whomever lives on that road would handle problems on your own without involvement from the town. To me, if your road is private, then it is your responsiblity to take care of it in every way (maintenance and plowing). What are the differences?

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  97. Sitting and smiling and having my private road plowed again.....January 6, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    I was going to call out Mr. Johansen for his hypocrytical post about Porgie and Bess and fishing in German Town (Hope he had protection). Mr. Johansen called some of us hijackers of posts, yet I see that when he posts and hijacks that itis just fine, or silly me, I forgot, it was Mr. Johansen. So, I am not going to call his action hypocritical.

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  98. Quote of the morning......"There is no crying in plowing"

    just do it

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  99. Anonymous (1/6/12 8:15 AM),

    As Carl said recently, there are really 3 kinds of roads: public, private open to the public, private.

    An example of a real private road would be The Ridge Club. That is a gated community. The road is not open to anyone without permission. If you wanted to drive through The Ridge Club you would be told "no".

    Public roads are owned by the town or State.

    Private open to the public roads are roads that got built and now exist for a number of reasons.

    If you go back and see why there are even these kind of roads (and a lot of these are not paved roads). My road for instance, when it was built we asked to pave the road. At the time the town was against asphalt. The environmentalists in town told us that they wanted to keep the amount of hot top down so that we wouldn't look like an urban jungle. So my road was forced into being a process and gravel road.

    Developers liked having environmentalists pushing for less asphalt. That was one less thing to pay for when they developed a street. The town got new houses to tax, the town didn't own the road (because they weren't going to own a road that needed to be fixed every year (but they did want the tax money)), the environmentalists were happy because it looked so "rustic" and "natural", the developers got to make a little more profit. Seemed like a win-win-win-win. To sweeten the deal, the town said they'd plow the snow in the winter.

    (to be continued)

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  100. continued from previous post:


    There are really no "pros" of living on a private road. These roads were creations of the town, developers and environmentalists. They knew there would be problems in the future but they just wanted their cake and eat it back then. The decision was very shortsighted.

    The "cons" are that it costs labor and cash to maintain a road that is really controlled by the town. Private roads open to the public cannot be gated to keep traffic off. Since a lot of these roads are dirt, when traffic does use the road it kicks up a lot of dust and dirt.

    The taxes on a private road are exactly the same as on public roads. Taxes are based on size and condition. Since the homes are paying the same amount for town services, shouldn't they be entitled to the same services?

    Buyer beware. You are right. Buying a house on a private road should mean that you are going to have to contribute to the road upkeep (excluding plowing). Unfortunately there are lots of homeowners on private roads who just have no desire to contribute ("Let the others do it."). There is no way to force someone on a private road to contribute. Some are unemployed or up against it and can't contribute. Some are physically unable to do anything. Some just can't be bothered. So the job of keep up the road falls on one or two people. If the one or two get fed up fixing a road that everyone else uses and most contribute nothing towards the effort, and they stop working on the road, the road will quickly fall into disrepair.

    By the town not continuing to accept private roads, the town is being shortsighted. For every mile of town road, the town gets money back from the State - every year. The town should go back to accepting private roads. It's a very simple investment that's not going anywhere. It may be flashier to entice a business to come into a town. But towns have a business opportunity staring them in the face: accept private roads and you get a return year after year. And unlike some of those sweet tax deals for businesses, you know your investment ain't gonna pick up and move to China.

    Taking private roads would be fiscally, long-term, responsible. Why is it too much to ask a town to do something that's gonna benefit everyone far into the future?

    In the past little side deals were made so that certain people could benefit, and then they stuck the buyer with the problems. It's just right to try to fix the situation. (And I'm not even going to mention all the road bond money that the town took in the past and never finished the road with the money as they were supposed to.)

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  101. From Anynomous 8:15 am --- Thanks for the clarification about the differences.. I think it's very interesting how the deals go down and how we are at this point trying to fix a problem created by others. If expense of the road to maintain is a burden (and I am sure that it is), then can you all petition to have the town repair it and then have the road changed to "public" status? I think trying to collect money from other homeowners to maintain a road is not realistic in these times. By the way, I'll be sure to keep this in mind when I want to park my car near the beach, so many streets down there with signs that say "Private Road" and do not have a gate. So it will be ok for me, a resident of Sandwich with a beach sticker, can go ahead and park there w/o worries. Right?

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  102. Carl Johansen would state that in some cases along the beach front in Sandwich you will find private signage,, but one would need to verify if in fact that was the case. Those private roads should be on a list that state such is the case. In some cases the local owners of property will place such signage, as no trespassing or private just to keep folks away from the area. This has been a common practice on this side of the bridge for as along I can recall fishing the fresh and salt water places that abound the Cape landscape. In some cases those signs are not accurate and that is why one needs to do a little research, when parking in such places.

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  103. Carl.. duly noted... But the parking along the 6A beaches is really limited... I would love a list of private roads that are plowed by the town, making it not so private after all if we find the town is "maintaining them" by plowing. And, as Mr. Barr stated, "Private but open to the public" and only made private for aesthetic reasons.

    This is a whole other subject however. I will continue to follow this story and think about summer where I will not be so hesitant to travel down private roads to explore and find a secret parking spot and not have to worry about parking there while I take a refreshing dip in the cool clean waters of the Bay. Good luck to all invovled in this and to whom it's affecting, either way.

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  104. Dear Anonymous 1/6/12 1:31PM,

    When you look at what happened in the past, it's like going to a casino and finding out that all the dealers were working together to stack the deck against you and all you got was the bill.

    There is no such thing as asking the town to do ANYTHING on a private road (other than plowing) Plowing/sanding is the only thing that the town can do for a private road. Anything else would be against the law. The other taxpayers in town save money that the town doesn't have to spend on private roads.

    It's a little like a parent homeschooling a child. That's a savings of 1/25th of a teacher. And that savings goes directly to reducing the taxes that everyone pays. Giving the kid the books is such a tiny portion of the savings that the town is getting.

    The town hasn't taken any roads in 6 years. The town used to take roads when the State was passing out money for taking roads. Now that the money has dried up (You didn't think they were going to cut salaries, did you?) there's no more roads being accepted by the town. (Even though this would make long term financial sense.)

    Collecting money from the neighbors is impossible. Especially in this economy they either can't or won't. So all the work and expense of maintaining the road falls on only a few.

    It gets confusing. A road doesn't have to have a gate to be a private road not open to the public. Before you park on that beach road, make sure it's one of those "private open to the public" roads. If it's one of those "private not open to the public", you can take your chances but don't be too surprised if, when you get back to where you parked your car with the sticker, your car and sticker are both gone.

    Sorry about that. Nice try though. Most of the private open to the public roads are not near the beach.

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  105. Bummer, worth a try though.

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  106. Dear Bummer

    I live on one of those private roads near the beach. It's a dirt lane and really not wide enough to safely park (today).

    Once we have to comply with the plowing conditions and widen, pave it and toss in a cul-de-sac then you should be welcome to park there free of chagre (and we'll foot the bill of the cost of the road for you).

    I'm sure cars lining the street(and noise and discarded trash etc. that comes with it) will ad value to the PREMIUM I'VE ALREADY PAID for my house (to live by the beach)...

    The private dirt road and it's proximity to the beach was appealing in our decision to purchase / quality and as place to live. In our case, the residents have been happy to contibute funds to maintain on behalf of our small, tight neighborhood - now you want to be entitled to park here as a side effect of a plowing issue? Where did that come from?

    If this is really how it's going to be make me an offer - I want out - and you can live by the beach full time - my home value continues to sprial downward.

    -frustrated.

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  107. Unhappy tax dodgerJanuary 7, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    Its funny that the powers that be do not post the private/public rules of the roads here. We know they read the blog. Posting answers to questions on this blog or clarifying the laws would be great. What say you Mr. Pierce. Post now or I will in May.

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  108. I still can't believe the Selectmen had no idea whether or not the DPW proposed new road condition policy conflicts with conservation, historical or any other Town Board's rules.

    The Town should determine what percentage of the property tax funds road maintenance and reduce the property taxes for properties on private roads by that factor.

    If the Town won't take the roads, then the least we can do is facilitate the private road improvements by borrowing money / bonding to finance the Betterments. Homeowners on the private roads would benefit from the lower interest rate and loan terms available to municipalities with the Town controlling the collection and disbursement of funds.

    It took years and years for the roads that need maintenance to get to this point, homeowners shouldn't be expected to correct road conditions with 6 to 9 months notice with no direction or assistance from the Town.

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  109. The happy taxpayerJanuary 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Mrs. Logan, the town should NOT be expected to pay for the plowing of private roads. I don't drive any longer and I pay taxes for roads. If the town should give those a credit that live on private roads, then maybe we should give partial credits to snow birds, full credit to those who no longer or never drove, and of course, extra credit to those who have multiple vehicles, and, let's not forget "shoveling" money to the town for those who live on private streets, but thanks to the town have streets leading to their streets plowed by the town; they should be charged by the inc.

    I do not nor NEVER did have children in the schools so I should get a credit for that. I also don't use the library because I can't get to it; and the COA; and to view any $3 million project in town; or fish ladders; I live on social security and don't avail myself of public housing, but I pay for it; I have NEVER had the police help me (even when I needed them)-they REFUSE to go onto the beach where children burn wood (sometimes my neighbor's fence!) I can't use the dump and pay for that (at least I have been); I can't use the town pool, but pay for that; I am not a non-profit, but pay for there free ride; I can't use public transportation, but will pay for it once the grant runs out, I can't get water at the town bubler, but pay for that or for any improvement; I paid 100% of my social security, but can't get nearly what public employees get, I can't use the beaches, but pay for part of that, I could go on and on. Frankly, government is government and they are kings with Gold and as we all know, He who has the Gold Rule.

    Let's hope that the Selectmen have done their homework and for once, don't kick the can. Remember the few cry babies out there can go to court as they did in Middleboro or they can bring a petition and aritcle to Town Meeting. I doubt they will because other than the Selectmen, no one else cares.

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  110. Happy Taxpayer 1/7/12 9:37 am

    I'm not married so if you need formality, please call me Ms. Logan...

    Even if you don't drive, you benefit from roads because every tangible product you consume and service you use is delivered over the roads.

    All the services you listed you pay for but you don't use, are available to you if you elected to use them.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't have children either and if I could move to a Town without a school system I'd do it in a heartbeat. So I pay for (too much I agree) other people's kids education just like someone paid for me when I was in school.

    Speaking of shcool, the Town school buses travel these private roads - is the Town going to stop providing school bus services for private roads?

    Giving short notice to residents private roads won't be plowed after years of plowing them is bad public policy. The Town should take the lead in working with citizens to solve this problem.

    Obviously the Selectmen didn't do their homework or they'd know if the proposed changes conflicted with conservation, historical or other laws and regulations.

    And obviously people care about this issue-even people like me who don't live on a private road.

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  111. Dear "frustrated" Anonymous 1/7/12 6:28,

    Those of us on "private, open to the public" roads have been trying to get back the one infrastructure service, allowed by law, that was taken away this year by the DPW. (Thanks to Selectmen Keenan, Pierce and Vatacco, the service we have paid taxes for for 14 years - (and still pay for to this day) - has been restored for this year.

    Through the whole process of trying to get what we were paying for, a lot of discussion centered on the word "private". Unfortunately, because of the use of that word in designating our roads, many people confused our roads with roads like yours. Semantics can be a powerful thing. Having the term "private" in our designation conjures up images of sand dunes and beaches, etc with large signs that say: "Private" "No Trespassing" "No access to beach" "Deeded Beach Rights" etc.

    We are not that kind of "private" roads. We are roads with homes. Most of us don't have any "attractions" that others want to visit. My road actually continues across a town road and becomes a town owned road. The town accepted half of our road. What makes us different is the way that deals were made that resulted in our roads being "private". The "dealmakers" all benefited and we ended up with a job for life.

    None of our efforts had anything to do with the real "PRIVATE"/no public access roads. None of those roads ever got plowed by the town. No one has suggested taking any of those roads. People on those roads like the situation just the way it is.

    It would probably have been less confusing if our roads were called something like: "public use ways". But, unfortunately, the word "private" comes first in our designation.

    The fight has been for us to get a service we're paying for. There was never any intention to take and pave any "Private/Not open to the public" road.

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  112. Carl Johansen would state to \Happy Taxpayer. You would be incorrect,in that the only ones that care are the Selectmen. We here in Sandwich,have many that care. The problems are so overwelming and so many that a caring person actually has difficulties in working through all of the background details and simply gives up the fight, for what they may precieve as the right thing to do.

    In some cases, the folks who you may think are doing the right thing on your behalf are really not. They fool you with dialog and misinformation and in some cases support.

    It becomes a very complicated process to understand and evaluate every thing thrown at the average taxpayer, given all of todays news coverage and what each family must do to survive on a daily basis is in many cases all they can handle.

    We have some elected officials that present a different face, dependant upon the individual on what are facts and what are not.

    You have made some very true comments about who gets to pay and who gets to use what we spend the money on and for the future, I do not see any changes in how that would change in todays climate of economic decline.

    In some cases those that are not afraid to speak out, wind up being threatened in some form or fashion, which results in less caring and a corrupt democratic process. Strength comes in numbers, just as what occured this past Thurday. Right or wrong one voice is hard to make a change, but many voices together will result in something being done. Is any one listing?

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  113. Steve - I think the issue of 'private' roads with 'attractions' being plowed has been confused.

    I (frustrated) live on a private road near the beach. The road is paid for and maintained by the abutters who live on the street - half of which by the way are snow birds.

    The town HAS PLOWED our road (we got the orange door tags), even though according to you it somehow must fall in a category unlike yours, in terms of plowing by definition - maybe that has been a mistake made by the town? I'm confused.

    Now with all that said, the road is (was/will be) below standards for plowing and in that case if I understand the issue we will need to bring the road up to town standards at some point.

    I understand and support your situation. Mine is different, and I am frustrated that someone (and there will be others) thinks they are entitled to park on our ('private') road with a beach sticker because it's on a plow list, when that only reflects a small fraction of the cost and personal time/efforts made to maintain an 'attractions / dunes etc. type private road'.

    At the risk of sounding defensive - If our roads were plowed in the past, why would they not be plowed in the future? If we have to alter the road (width, pavement, clear cut brush) etc. and ruin the rural setting then our property should be devalued, rather than considered as an improvement.

    I can only hope there is an advocate to preserve the beach areas (there is alot of property / roads north of 6A that fall into this category).

    As Jane mentioned, where is conservation and the historical commission on all this? Very simple: I think certain roads and neighborhoods need to be preserved as is - and they should be plowed by the town as they have been in the past.

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  114. Mr. Johansen

    Unlike many on this blog who critcized what you write, I do not. However, and I'm not being sarcastic, exactly, and in a nutshell what the hayke were you writing about. I did not understand although I am just below average intelligence.

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  115. Dear frustrated anonymous,

    Sorry for mis-characterizing your road. According to the rules set up by the State, etc., to be plowed you need to be what is called a private road open to the public. Your road and my road are considered the same designation if you got an orange sticker. There are about 175 private open to the public roads in Sandwich. (I've forgotten whether Paul said there were 30 or 60 miles of private roads in town. I believe he said that the no plow roads were a total of 6 miles.)

    You may not like that and I can understand why. If that becomes an issue then I believe that you have the right to petition for change of status. (Doesn't mean you'll get it. but you can always ask.)

    If parking were to become an issue on your street I believe that you can also petition to have no parking on the street. I can't remember the names but I'm sure I've seen roads near the beach that are posted for no parking. Since I remember seeing those signs, I presume that those roads were "private, open to the public". There was no signage that indicated the road was off-limits, but parking on that road was almost non-existent.

    Sorry for the confusion.

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  116. Carl Johansen would state to Steve Why not have the town apply for CPA funding for those road ways that are historical in nature to perhaps retain the character of the road while upgrading the surface for plowing???

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  117. Carl,

    Thank you for your suggestion. This is the kind of "constructive input" that I feel the selectmen were looking for at Thursday's meeting.

    I feel that there is a solution to the whole roads issue. I don't think this whole thing is impossible and I certainly don't believe that the people of Sandwich are stupid or hopeless. I do believe that there is enough intelligence - intellectual horsepower - to find an answer to the issues.

    I have had to solve a lot of problems over the years and I have found that working with a group to do so is much more effective, efficient and results in better solutions.

    I've seen a method we used to call "brainstorming" work very well. In this, every "possible solution" is collected, researched and thought through. In collecting, ideas that are "out of the box" usually surface. Eventually all the choices get narrowed down to "probable solutions" and from those the process can almost always come to a conclusion.

    I have gotten and thought of a few "possibles" that I have made into a list. I am going to email this list of possible solutions to the email list I have. (These are people whom I've met and who are interested in the topic. It is an open list and anyone who wants to be added is more than welcome. They can send me an email (stevebarr@excite.com) and ask to be added.) I believe that people will add possible solutions to the list of solutions.

    We have more than 8 months before October. I feel confident we can solve a lot of this if not all of it by then.

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  118. Steve,

    What have you been given as a reason for the town not paying for upgrades? Is it that they don't have the money? Is that they can't legally spend the money? I am sort of lost although trying hard to follow what is going on.

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  119. Dear Anonymous 1/8/12 1:19PM,

    If by "upgrades" you mean doing anything to a private road, the answer is that by law the town cannot provide any work on a private road. The only thing allowed is "winter maintenance" ie: plowing and sanding.

    A few years ago the State gave towns money to take private roads. When that was happening the town would take the money, then take a road and then the road was a town road so they could then work on it and spend the money that they got from the State and they would own the road.

    A private road can still petition the town to take it, but since the grant money is all gone and the town ain't got any extra money, if a road wanted to become a town road the people would have to do all the work to bring the road up to the current standards (drainage, culverts, berming, paving, etc.) - at their own expense. Then when the road needs no work, the town may take it. To do this would cost thousands of $$$$ per house.

    I'm hopeful that with all the current talk in politics about infrastructure, that one of these days we may see a return of some of the money that was there in the past.

    Just an aside: for every gallon of gas sold, the federal gov. takes over 18 cents in taxes. That's a large amount of money. That money was supposed to be used for roads. So why do we have bridges falling and no money to take roads? Seems that when Washington sees a lot of money coming in they find a way to take it for something else. Surprise!

    Just like social security money that was paid in for years and just taken and spent on earmarks. Now that people are going to retire, they want to tell them that they can't have the deal they were promised because Washington spent their money.

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  120. Thanks Mr. Barr,

    The reason for the question was that there was a suggestion that we look at CPA money, but from what you have indicated that can not be done unless the town owned the streets. To me this me that the suggestion may just be bogus and that we should not waste anymore time on it.

    If I might, one more question; can the town take the road if it is not up to standards and the put CPA money towards bringing them up to standards (assuming that CPA money can be used for this purpose). It does seem to me that the "real reason" for thining about CPA money is just to get a freebee from the town by the private owners. Also, why would we help just one class of owners. Many of the private roads have no essential environmental value that would preclude an upgrade.

    I hope you win out because I would not want to be in your position, but I think that somewhere the whole idea of not plowing was a set up by the state and/or the MMA. Other towns have done it and won their uprising of the masses.

    As an aside, social securtiy trust fund money was "loaned" off the books to the general fund, the money is still there in the form of IOUs. If social security did not make it an entitlement to pay for children, diabled etc., there would be more in the trust fund. Congress is just piddling around instead of tackling the problem, much as the selectmen are doing with the private road plowing. They have a complete inability to make a decision within months of being quick. They are afraid to take a stand. Notice how Mr. Pierce wants to be on a committee for a solution. Is he running again and trying to win over votes? Remember that it was he on this blog that stated he just bought an SUV when he bought into a private road.

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  121. Dean Anonymous 1/8/12 3:41PM,

    I don't know exactly what CPA funds are. They show up on the tax bill, but are they tax money? Got me. I know that there is a limited number of things that can be done with the money and have no idea if it's even possible to use it for taking private roads. But, as with any search for an answer, it wouldn't hurt to know whether it's possible to use the funds. My first guess would be "no", but who knows?

    I'd really hope that if the town does go back to taking roads that it's something outside of taxes. Ex: let's say the feds have an infrastructure stimulus program. Someone's gonna get that money. May as well be us.

    Taking private roads can be a boon for the town. The town gets money back from the State based on miles of roads. If you can get something, especially for something you got for free, that pays back a dividend every year, that sounds like a hit.

    On Social Security: I think I heard that about $9 trillion of the $15T national debt was in the form of money "borrowed" from social security. The pols know they stole the money and now they want to "fix" social security (because they broke it). What would be right is just to pay the money back. SS is just a gov. run insurance policy. I ran the numbers and at a 4% return, the average recipient leaves well over $100K on the table when they die. It's not a ponzi scheme and it makes money. Unfortunately, nothing will every work if the money is constantly skimmed and embezzled.

    "Fixing" SS by going back on the deal made with the premium payers is just not right. Fix SS by putting back the money you stole first. But that'll just mean that we all get to pay twice.

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  122. Carl Johansen would state to Steve.

    Community Preservation Act [CPA{ Is a tax that is assesed on each property owner at a 3% rate,. but it has limatations on where it can be used and how.

    The money can be used for the preservation of historical features with in a town.
    It can be used to purchase conservation land
    It can be used to rebuild historical buildings
    It can be used in some areas as recreational parks and beaches.

    The above are just general in nature.
    The town just approved $350,000 to rebuild the water bubbler and associate infrastructure around town hall.

    At this time, no one to my knowledge, has in fact attempted to use some of this money for historical preservation of old road ways. I believe it may be worth looking into, given all of the concerns surrounding historic ways and the inability to safely plow these road ways,

    If an old historic road way can be proven to have some significant historical tie and is in need of work to keep the natural historical way safe and open to traffic, why not at least, investigate the possible funding of some project that would enhance this historical road way to keep it safe and plowable.

    It is just an idea, that one would need to put in a lot of time to determine if it can be done.

    It would have to be sold to the CPC and the board of Selectman to get it on the town warrant, to be approved by town meeting, to be finally funded.

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  123. Carl,

    Thanks for the info. I knew it was on the tax bill and I figured it was some sort of pseudo-tax that didn't have the fiscal or legal requirements of tax money.

    Unfortunately, you never hear the people (like some on this discussion) who yell about helping out individuals (or small groups of people)) when it comes to CPA money. Let's see, who really benefits when the town pays what felt like retail money for useless, undevelopable land in the middle of a town forest? (I would have thought the town would have offered to take his tax burden away from him for $1. He would have saved every year. But we pay him retail for the land? Really?) How about the narrow strip of land behind a bunch of houses? Was that a good deal? Retail to buy a buffer for their back yard? If I lived there, I'd be so happy that everyone paid for my "backyard improvement."

    Just like Washington with the SS money. When people see a big pile of money they feel compelled to either spend it or go get it for themselves. There's never a shortage of people out there saying: "Give it to me" or "Spend it for my backyard", etc.

    It's amazing how easy it is to spend $350,000 for a bubbler that, according to Mr. Dunham, has water that has the "same" test results as the water coming out of my tap. (Is it town water? (Or were the fish swimming in it just before it came out?)) I wonder how much that would cost if a developer had to pay for it? Why do I think it might be less than $350,000.

    Collecting and making a pile of money is like wheeling a sweets and candy table into a 1st grade party.

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  124. Thanks for the CPA suggestion.

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  125. Is the town REQUIRED to plow public roads?
    Is the town REQUIRED to maintain public roads?
    What happens if a "public" road fails the same requirements that a private road must meet to plow? will it be repaired prior to winter?



    And my #1 question

    What about "ANCIENT WAYS", an ancient way is a road that has (almost) always been there atleast pre 1890. It predates zoning. Is the town required to plow and maintain the ancient ways? Some of the homes on ancient ways are over 100 years old. and ancient ways are often one lane dirt roads in poor shape.

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  126. Carl Johansen would state to Steve . The present mentality of late is to find as many historical projects that CPA funding can be spent on. The decreased match money from the state, along with the long term committments presently being approved for this money will assure that we the tax payers will continue to need this 3% tax far into the future, just to pay the bills they are approving. Given all of the present concerns surrounding the plowing of roads, especially historical roads[Ancient Ways] Why not attempt to find some way to get some money from this source??

    I would also agree that perhaps this 3% tax be reduced or at the very least be reasigned to our road problems by a vote at town meeting. WE all need to be taking a different approach, as to how this money gets appropriated.

    I would split the 3% 1.5 for the Cpa and the other 1.5 for needed road work if it can be done legaly.

    If that can not be done then reduce the tax by 1.5 % and give the money back to the taxpayers.

    To poster 3.38 the basic answer would be yes on your 2 questions.

    Depended upon finacial road money available to actually get the work done.

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    Replies
    1. Carl,

      I think that you make some great points. Unfortunately, I believe that using pseudo-tax money for roads, ancient or otherwise, may be "a hurdle too high".

      It may just be me.

      Re: the roads: I would prefer that the whole issue be done without tax or quasi-tax money. A lot of people have come up with ideas and have done some research on them. A solution may be closer than people thought for most of the road issues. I hope to be more specific later.

      Delete
  127. Let us remember that the town of Sandwich doesn't have a large pot of extra money to spend on roads that many people have not tried to bring up to standards because it would cost THEM money.

    Some people bought homes in subivisions. The cost of the homes reflected the cost of the roads as a part of the pricing of the homes; and so, they paid for bringing them up to standards or at least paid for the use of the road even if it did not meet the standards that the town requires.

    As I understand it, do let me know if I am wrong, private roads are private and because they are private, not public, they are privately owned. Because they are privately owned, they pay property taxes for the roadway. It does seem a bit unfair that the taxes are paid for the roads, but they can't be plowed.

    On the other hand, it seems to me that taking some or all of the 3% surcharge tax (CPA)is ludicrous and unlawful. I have heard and read complaints by Mr. Johansen when people try to skirt Porp. 2.5 and now he suggests that MAYBE we could take the money, that is not 2.5 restricted to pay for roads that are privately owned. I think not. The law was made in part made to provide money for historic preservation. Taking half of the three percent for fixing these roads so the owners save on plowing is propostorus in my opinion. It would mean that the 1.5 taken would have to be made part of the prop. 2.5 calculation. As for just leaving the 3% in and proposing to fix the ancient roads as part of historic preservation seems a bit silly. The ancient roads, usually older roads, to be brought up to standards would not preserve them, but take from the historical character that they might have.

    Lastly, to Mr. Johansen, I would ask, what if we could use the money from CPA funds on what are or may be ancient ways, is this fair to those who live on private roads that are not.

    Do some homework and answer these questions or maybe run for office
    and answer all of our questions and solve all of our problems.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous 1/16/12 5:37,

      Just a little clarification. There are approximately 295 roads (or pieces of roads) in town (that are on the town's list of roads) that are labeled "Private". The list is on the town's website.

      I got the number 295 by going through the list and simply counting the number of "private"s.

      About 125 of those roads have been plowed for years and were never put on a "no plow" list.

      About 55 of those roads were on the no plow list as of 10/1/2011.

      295 minus 180 (125 + 55) = 115. 115 is the number of roads that are private and were never plowed. These are basically the "private not open to the public" roads.

      Except for places such as The Ridge Club (with the guard at the gate) most of the 115 look like regular roads. Most of them are in an association. The association owns the road as "common area" and dues are collected for maintenance and plowing. Towns have switched to this model over the years. It works great for the town. If you want to build a large condo development then the town does not plow (and in a lot of towns (I don't know if this is true of Sandwich) the condo has to take care of it's own trash with a private contractor.))

      So with that model, the town makes a deal with the developer that it's gonna collect taxes but is never going to provide road maintenance or trash services. All those expenses get thrown on the owners via the Master Deed - ad infinitum. A great deal for the town - not so much for the owners - but that was the deal.

      The 180 roads were, for the most part, either too small to be called "developments" or made before the above model came into existence (ancient ways). A lot of these roads came into existence because of the way the town set them up. Shame on the town for doing what it did. They made bad decisions that benefited them and the developers. Now we're stuck with their decisions and it's up to us to find a solution.

      Basically, the DPW seems to want all of the private roads to be associations with fees for plowing from the owners. The 180 just want to be treated as they have been.

      The 180 feel that they have an "implied Master Deed" with the town. You led us on to believe we'd be plowed and now you're changing your mind? Not right!

      Delete
    2. Allow me to point out a conundrum:

      "The Fund must be used to acquire and protect open space, preserve historic buildings and landscapes, and create and maintain affordable housing."

      (Copied from http://www.sandwichmass.org/DepartmentDetail.asp?ID=95 )

      Now if the town owns 1/3 of the houses on my little street, what does the word "maintain" (above) mean? Does it mean "plowing"?

      Some guy who was around town a few years ago, Dan Webster, said that "maintain" meant "to keep in an existing state". (He put it in his book.)

      Leaving snow on the ground and preventing use of the property doesn't feel like "existing state".

      Like with everything: To all the CPA lovers out there, beware of what you wish for and, remember, actions usually have consequences.

      Delete
  128. Part II

    Mr. Barr, I appreciate your efforts and find you to be a polite and caring man. I think that if a solution is found, that you will find it. Keep up the good work and don't go for crazy ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  129. Carl Johansen would state to 5.37 nothing is fair in todays world, however my comments are mearly suggestions whom ever you may be.

    You can choose to use the phrases of home work, running for office, solving all of our problems as a mantra going into the future. This is the typical responce from some of our elected officials presently.



    In regards to the CPA money, Perhaps if you read what I posted in regards, to if it can be done legally, it was a question of concern. Cpa money, is also used for other priorities other then Historic Preservation, just for your information.

    It would seem that life here in Sandwich and private road plowing will take some serious dollars to rectify. Perhaps, some day, we all will see a better product for our tax dollars? Federal, State and Town wide support will be needed to acomplish the final goals of bringing all roads up to some legimate standard, that plowing can be done for the safety of all.

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  130. @Johansen,

    First, you should read my post again. It clearly states that it is unlawful to do what you suggested. What is wrong with pointing this out, especially when you mention you don't know if it's "legaly" possible. Can no one mention that they believe it is or know it is? You are quick to point the falabilities of others so why can we not do the same to your comments?

    Second, I asked a question of fairness. You never answered it. Could it be you don't want to give the answer or maybe never thought about it. Oh, you pointed out that nothing is fair. I would disagree. There are many things in life that are fair, at least in this great nation of ours. Look at some of your leaders and ask, "are they fair?" Leaders such as our last two state representatives. This is but one of millions of things that are fair in life. To paint with your fingers.

    Third, forget my mantra and I might forget yours, i.e..."misunderstand me; I meant to say; someone (other than you of course)step up to the plate, it is unAmerican to bullet a ballot." You see, we all have mantas and they can all be criticized such as I have done, but because they are criticized, it does not mean that they can't be stated.

    Fourth, my points are that your suggestion is not legal and that it is unfair, as I suggested to get the money from CPA, if it were legal and not so much as care about the rest of the people with private roads not living on ancient ways. You answered the question only with "nothing is fair". I guess that means you don't give a hoot for us who know and use relatives' non-ancient way roads. That to me is unfair. As far a typical response from elected officials mentioning "do your homework", run for office", is that wrong to suggest that. You once in this blog used "your investigation". Is not "doing your homework" the same thing. "As for run for office", saying that is a good thing. Some of us who constantly complain should run and see how difficult it is and how unhappy you will make someone with almost any major decision you make. These "politician" deserve our thanks even if we don't like them. They expose themselves to the unknowing masses. Than the Lord for them.

    ReplyDelete

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