Soapstone Road residents asked members of the Moretown Select Board Monday night to reconsider a decision to discontinue seasonal maintenance on the Class IV road. The road was removed from the town’s plow list earlier in the summer after it was determined to be Class IV, not Class III.
Residents of the horseshoe-shaped road off of Route 2 received a letter in the mail over a month ago indicating the town’s intention to discontinue winter road maintenance.
At the August 15 meeting, residents told select board members that the road has been plowed by the town for the past 50 years. The road was marked private approximately 12 years ago after the town completed 911 address requirements.
Town officials sought the opinion of town attorney Paul Gillies who indicated in a letter that if the town has maintained a private road it has likely converted it into a town highway by dedication and acceptance, but that does not mean there is an obligation to provide maintenance.
In addition, Gillies said there isn’t a set procedure for ending seasonal maintenance with the exception of holding a hearing.
“Stopping maintenance isn’t taking away rights,” he continued.
Select board chair John Hoogenboom called the issues surrounding the town’s discontinuance a “different situation.”
“How do we explain to the taxpayers of the town that we’re doing this. It’s one of the things that is costing extra money,” he said.
Residents estimated the cost for the town to plow the road to be $1,500 per season. Soapstone Road resident Johnnie Damon said, “It’s not that much money. It’s going to cost us a lot more. Call us grandfathered in.”
Soapstone Road resident Don Gamble said that hiring a private contractor to maintain the road is going to cost $400 to $700 per snowstorm for the 300-yard road. The road only received plowing in the winter and, according to residents, no additional maintenance has been completed by the town in years.
Select board member Stephanie Venema said that she would like to gather more information about the road before the board makes any decision.
For the town to take over the maintenance of a road, Vermont League of Cities and Towns representative Karen Horn said that VLCT recommends bringing the road up to Class III code.
Damon said, “None of the roads in Moretown are up to code.”
Hoogenboom said, “All the board members have the same feeling; it’s just a precedent that has been set.”
Select board member Clark Amadon said, “I regret that you’ve had to take the time to put this all together and understand that you’re asking for basic maintenance, but I’m trying to reconcile continued maintenance on a Class IV road that no other Class IV road gets, but I am sympathetic.”