Roads to nowhere?
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
I might have made another mistake in my life and if I did, I have no problem admitting to it. You see the Windham Planning Board held a meeting on Aug. 28 and I watched most it. I tried to catch the rest of their meeting online but it seems to have been cut off after three hours or so.
The reason I watched the meeting in the first place was that the Planning Board was taking public comments on the Town Council’s proposed changes regarding private roads in Windham. What’s amazing is that the Planning Board meeting had three Windham councilors show up, which in normal circumstances, constitutes an illegal meeting if they meet and it wasn’t announced. One, I guess, could have hoped that the councilors would have announced their intention to attend the Planning Board meeting at their previous council meeting but maybe that is too much to ask or even hope for.
I will first state my position on private roads in Windham and it more or less parallels the state statute on the matter. That is that private roads are a private matter. Private roads in Windham have either been mishandled or ignored for a lengthy period of time and I am not going to waste time or space on where that blame falls. I really believe Windham bungled when it comes to plowing private roads with public easements, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Now it is obvious things have come to head because the proposed changes to building a new private road include improving any substandard private road it might be connected to (that’s a simple explanation but I want to keep it simple). The Planning Board meeting was interesting because, as always, when citizens become agitated at their government they will swarm a meeting to air their frustrations.
And make no doubt about, they should have frustrations because, I am sorry to state, they live in Windham. I often wonder why other towns around Windham don’t have Windham’s problems, but just maybe they are better at hiding their dirty laundry. Or is it because Windham has too much dirty laundry and no way to wash it clean? Anyway, I have to guess that the proposed changes to private roads in Windham include prohibiting development of backlots or subdivided lots if the roads they are connected to don’t meet the town’s standards. Again, plenty of citizens were at that meeting venting their frustrations about possible huge expenses in bringing a private road up to town standards just to give a relative a piece of land.
Two out of the three town councilors there stated their view was in favor of increasing standards for private roads in Windham. Sadly, I believe that those two town councilors live on private roads and one even sued the town and lost. I personally feel it’s sad if that councilor ran for office just for that reason, but that’s not my worry, for sure. I have yet to hear if there is a conflict of interest because of problems these two councilors might have had with private roads. Or didn’t they understand private roads in the first place? I am beginning to wonder who is right or wrong in regards to private roads.
So I will state that the state’s definition of a subdivision “means the division of a tract or parcel of land into three or more lots within any 5-year period.” It states that gifts to relatives do not create a subdivision if the donor has owned the lot or parcel for a continuous period of five years and the parcel is not further divided or transferred within five years of from the date of division. Due to lack of space I left some material out of the state law. After witnessing some of the development occurring in Windham I have to wonder if state statutes have always been followed. Just maybe even the state of Maine created some problems.
Lane Hiltunen of Windham wonders if sometimes special interests control Windham.