Bridgton selectmen ponder town land offers

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer
Bridgton Selectmen were a bit wary at their last meeting in dealing with four separate requests to buy small plots of town-owned land.
The requests underscored the need to set a value for all land the town owns, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant any one parcel might seem.
Only one of the four requests could easily be decided without further investigation. Jane Starets of 100 Highland Road wanted the town to deed over a .08-acre strip of land that abuts the road, but was never deeded over to her when the road was moved.
The board agreed with her request, treating it much as a housekeeping matter. Under state law, if a town discontinues a roadway location, the discontinued portion reverts back to the adjoining property owners. Town Meeting voters agreed in 2008 to allow selectmen “to execute all deeds and instruments” to convey to all property owners the land comprising the former location of Highland Road, which was discontinued by the town in 1936. But in Staret’s case, the deed was never formally executed.
The other three land sale requests were from property owners who abut surplus back land the town owns near Moose Pond.
William and Beverly Warren were denied a setback variance to build a detached garage beside their home on Cedar Drive. They need 10 more feet to meet the setback rule for Shoreland Zoning, and it just so happened that the town owns the abutting land.
Therefore, the Warrens want to buy a 10-foot-wide strip, and because the town also owns land in back, they would in return give the town a permanent right-of-way over the land. The Warrens point out in their request that in 1985, the state gave the town authority to sell the land that their house sits on, and that the excess town land does not contain any shore frontage.
Selectmen approved the request by a vote of 4-1, with Bob McHatton opposed. McHatton said he wasn’t against any one specific proposal, but thought that a detailed study of all town-owned land should be undertaken before taking action on any single proposal.
Another request came from Glenn Browning at 38 Cedar Drive, who wanted the right of first refusal if the town decides to sell the land abutting his. The board opted to take no action on his request.
Lastly, Sean Morgan of 21 Kendal Ham Drive wanted to buy town land across the street that others of his neighbors have been able to acquire, which they use to store their boats and off-season items. He said the town owns around 79 feet of frontage on Kendal Ham Drive which extends back several hundred feet.
Morgan said he’d be happy with a nonbuildable lot of around a quarter-acre, and would be willing to have a survey done at his expense. And he asked several questions that the board wasn’t sure how to answer.
“Are there any requirements/restrictions that you would like to impose to make the transaction more palatable for you? i.e., town to have right-of-way access to the rest of their land through the piece I am inquiring about? Or maybe a smaller or bigger piece than is currently being suggested?”
His second question was even more pertinent: “Where do we go from here?”
The board will be taking up the land sale questions again at their next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

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