Selectmen brush aside plow policy's private road rules
Nearly one year after adopting a contentious municipal snow plowing policy, Selectmen swept it aside on Tuesday night just three months before it was set to take effect.
The decision means private road residents won’t have to ask for town permission each summer to receive plow service. Private roads, under the policy’s definition, does not include right of ways closed to the public. Private roads in this case means streets that are not recognized by the state as belonging to town, but nonetheless are open to drivers.
Selectman Peter Teitelbaum asked the board to remove the clause, which was originally adopted last June at the urging of Director of Municipal Maintenance Dave Menard.
Menard had asked for the policy change in a bid to save town plows from being damaged by poorly maintained private streets. The policy required private road residents to petition the town before Aug. 1 each year to stay off the “do not plow list.” The rule was set to take effect July 1, 2017.
Teitelbaum said having Municipal Maintenance employees inspect the 400 plus private roads affected by the policy turned out to be unrealistic.
“We seemed to expect that Municipal Maintenance would be able to inspect those private roads to meet muster for plowing,” he said, adding that the town department was short staffed.
Chair Judith Whiteside said it was too soon for the board to decide until residents weighed in on a different road bylaw set for a vote at the upcoming Town Meeting.
“There are private roads that have made the grade, if you will, to be plowed by the town,” said Whiteside. “I’m loathe to revoke it until I see what Town Meeting does.”
Selectman Patrick Tropeano, who was against the policy from the beginning, reiterated his position.
“We don’t give people a lot for their money, plowing the roads is the least they can expect and I think it should be automatic,” said Tropeano.
Board members voted 4-1 in favor of changing the policy, with Whiteside voting against.