New bylaw would give private roads regular maintenance schedule

By Zarrin Tasnim Ahmed | Oct 17, 2016

Not having private roads on a regular maintenance schedule poses a public safety risk, according to Ed Pacewicz, and he wants to change that through a new bylaw.

Pacewicz and others will step forward at Town Meeting with a proposal that would require the town to repair private roads twice a year.

“This is a public safety issue to make sure the roads are in safe and ready passage for the emergency vehicles to the residents and it's the responsibility of the town to address the issue,” said Pacewicz.

However, the potential cost has concerned some town officials.

The biggest question is how much more money the town would have to spend provide that service. That's why both Selectmen and the Finance Committee voted for further study of the article.

“There has been no impact information provided,” said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan. “It would be practical to have a study committee put together a proper informational package.”

Under Wareham’s current system, if private road residents want repairs they must appear before Selectmen for approval and then pay for the cost of materials and labor. If the bylaw is adopted, residents would not pay for labor costs, just the cost of materials used to repair the roads.

Pacewicz's concern is that the article will be placed for further study and then forgotten. Time is of the essence for him and other residents on private roads since the Municipal Maintenance Department, which handles all road work for the town, adopted a new winter policy set to take effect in 2017.

The policy states that private roads will not be plowed unless they meet acceptable plowable road standards. Residents of private roads must submit a special form by Aug. 1 each year to be considered for the department’s private road plow list. All property owner/abutters must sign the petition form in order to receive winter maintenance.

If a private way does not pass inspection each year, residents must repair the road to the standard to have their roads plowed.

“Come November next year, there's going to be a problem plowing all those roads,” said Tropeano. “They don't even want to plow them if they've got ruts in them.”

The question of the town's responsibility for private roads has been an ongoing one.

Distinguishing public from private roads first became an issue in the spring of 2013 when officials discovered that the town had violated Massachusetts law by using public funds to plow private roads.

In 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to allow the town to continue to plow private roads open to public use. The town created a list of public and private ways since then.

"Public safety was the paramount concern here," said Teitelbaum before the 2014 Spring Town Meeting. "We can't put emergency services at risk when there is a foot of snow, increasing response times and risks for them to do their jobs."

Town Meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium.

Comments (10)
Posted by: Chaka | Oct 17, 2016 18:30

Voters approved plowing private roads open to public use. Not private roads with a "private way keep out" sign.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Oct 17, 2016 21:04

I think this is a great idea!  Henceforth my driveway shall be known as Suppression Way.  Really, the only difference between Suppression Way and Private Way Keep Out (pictured above) is the length.

Posted by: cranky pants | Oct 17, 2016 21:43

So where will this leave the slew of residents that inhabit areas with " paper roads " ?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Oct 18, 2016 08:06

"Not having private roads on a regular maintenance schedule poses a public safety risk" The safety risk is self imposed by people not taking care of their PRIVATE rd. The costs of this proposed bylaw will be incredible and should be voted down. The Town is having trouble keeping the PUBLIC roads in shape. We should not be taking on any maintenance of PRIVATE rds. I also think that we should not be plowing snow on PRIVARE roads unless the owners of the PRIVATE roads keep their PRIVATE rd in good shape.  Ed Pacewicz and not the Town should compile and present the total costs of this bylaw to the Town. If this passes I will propose a bylaw to renovate my PRIVATE home. I have already made the Private Road Please Maintain and Plow sign for the end of my driveway Noise.

Posted by: SGT | Oct 18, 2016 11:11

The people who own the roads should bear the cost of plowing and repairs.  If this passes I believe the town should pay for the repairs on my house, cars, and any other things that I own.  This is another example of welfare.  Don't even try to make a case for these services as being part of the taxes they pay.  They have a private road.  They pay for its maintenance.


Posted by: Snowman | Oct 18, 2016 15:03

We are all learning to live within the Town's means.  This is a simple one.

Private Road = Private Plowing

Public Road = Public Plowing

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Oct 18, 2016 15:23

SGT. and Snowman - Regarding plowing of private roads the following quote from the above story:

"In 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to allow the town to continue to plow private roads open to public use."

Posted by: brazz | Oct 18, 2016 20:09

Does this mean that Ed Pacewicz lives on a private road? "Time is of the essence for him and other residents on private roads"

Also a quick reminder. Everyone one knows how damaging plowing is to normal paved roads, Imagen the cost/labor of repairing dirt roads after every winter of plowing. I'm sure everyone has been on dirt roads in the early spring.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Oct 19, 2016 10:49

Voters in this town will NEVER vote to maintain private roads. We can't even keep up with the public roads! Pack it in Ed, never going to happen.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Oct 19, 2016 10:52

Brazz, yes....I'm sure Ed is on a private road. Self serving article.

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