42 Casco road inspections lie ahead

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — One local selectman commented on how time-consuming a project updating road standards for public easements has become.

It is time-consuming for the people living on those roads who have to submit paperwork and public easement deeds as well as the laborious stuff like repairing roads or hiring someone to do that.

It is time-consuming for staff. The paperwork has to be processed and filed. The road commissioner has had to walk the roads with a road association president or agreed-upon representative. The outcomes of the road inspection: Either this road is fine, or this is what needs to be done and what it will cost to fix this road.

Casco Selectman Thomas Peaslee was speaking.

“This exercise is turning into more of a project than everyone thought. I commend him (Morton) for going out and doing this. It is a lot to keep track of. We need it all on a list,” Peaslee said.

The Casco Board of Selectmen was once again discussing the wintertime maintenance of public easements and the task of bringing all those roads into compliance to the 1972 Road Standards Ordinance.

It is a year away — the deadline for all public easements to be up to snuff and double-checked by a town official. After Oct. 31, 2019, all roads not in compliance will be taken off the wintertime maintenance list.

Selectman Grant Plummer has hit the pavement with Casco Town Manager Dave Morton, who is also Casco’s road commissioner. He expressed concerns that people might not plan ahead well enough to meet the deadline.

“My message is: If you are on this list, you had better fix your road,” Plummer said.

The cost of fixing public easements is the responsibility of the private landowners along the road, not the taxpayers. However, tax money pays for wintertime maintenance.

Chairman Holly Hancock confirmed that there are 42 roads classified as public easements, and about half of those have contacted the town and/or submitted paperwork. Several public easements have been personally inspected by Morton but there are still many roadways in need of inspection, she said

Talk about time-consuming: It takes about 4½ hours out in the field to drive every road that is classified as a public easement, “and that’s driving the speed limit,” according to Selectman Grant Plummer.

Plummer recently spent 2½ hours inspecting roads with Morton, he said.

“There is a handful that we shouldn’t maintain. How they got on the list — I don’t know,” he said.

Plummer said, “What is going to happen is: The town is going to send letters saying, these are the notifications you have received…”

Then, the road owners will need to present a plan of action and possibly apply for a waiver for anything that cannot be finished or cannot be afforded before Oct. 31, 2019.

“How many times we have sat here and talked about it. It is not going to be bad until the plow truck doesn’t show up. That is when they are going to show up — next winter, if we take it (their road) off the list,” Plummer said.

Selectman Mary Feranandes said once a road is removed from the wintertime maintenance list, the 2015 Road Standard Ordinance must be met in order for a road to be accepted as a public easement.

“The other concern is that 2015 road standards are going to be much more stringent,” Fernandes said.

Also, road associations that have decided to hire someone with a plow truck might be surprised by the price, Hancock said.

“We get our sand and salt through a group contract price. An individual who drives over to P&K to get sand, it is not the same price,” Hancock said.

Selectman Peaslee shared his plan

“I was going to suggest that the selectmen go look at these 42 roads,” Peaslee said.

Hancock quipped, “Some of us do.”

She was referring to her job with the Casco Fire and Rescue Department as Assistance Fire Chief and sometimes driving equipment.

Picking away at this and hitting a couple of them each week, that might not be a bad idea,” Chairman Hancock said.

Like the other issue of hiring a new town manager, the progress on public easements will continue to be on the selectmen’s agenda. The board is trying to appeal to the public to apply for waivers this fall for anything that would prevent people from bringing their public easement into compliance before October 2019.

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