Sometimes decisions made by members of the Windham Town Council have far-reaching implications well into the future. Take for an example, the acceptance by the town of a private road as a town road and all the responsibility that entails now and for years down the road. That was the case facing Windham councilors at the Sept. 14 town council meeting regarding the acceptance of Abenaki Drive as a town road.
The Abenaki Drive subdivision contains eight lots with homes and was developed by STJ, Inc. of Buxton and was approved by the Windham Planning Board in December 2017 and in May 2018. The road was one of the first constructed following updated town standards, but as part of the subdivision’s approval, Planning Board members granted two waivers from the public street standard, the requirement for a Cul-de-sac and for sidewalks or widened paved roadway shoulders.
STJ, Inc. offered an easement to the town for public access for 4.03 acres of common open space and stormwater drainage earlier this year in June and applied for Abenaki Drive to be formally transferred to the town as a public roadway.
But lingering questions about snow removal led town councilors to postpone a decision regarding acceptance of the road until later this month.
Windham Town Council Chair David Nadeau raised questions about where town snowplow trucks could put snow scraped off the subdivision road.
“To plow this road, you have to push the snow into someone’s driveway,” Nadeau said. “I feel for these residents but there’s no place to put the snow.”
Windham Public Works Director Doug Fortier also questioned where two- and three-ton town snowplow trucks would place the accumulated snow in the subdivision.
“I don’t know where I’m going to put the snow,” Fortier said.
For the past two years, the road has been plowed by smaller plow trucks by Gorham Sand and Gravel and pushed to the right side of the Abenaki Drive into a 10-foot culvert. And some Abenaki Drive residents at the meeting said the snow could also be pushed onto sections of their property.
Nadeau said the issue for the town snowplows was created by the developer when they requested and received waivers from the Planning Board for not creating a cul-de-sac and sidewalks.
Five different residents of Abenaki Drive spoke at the meeting saying they built homes in the subdivision because they were told that the roadway would be accepted as a road and maintained by the town and that the subdivision was approved by the Windham Planning Board.
Councilor Jarrod Maxfield explained to the residents of Abenaki Drive attending the meeting that many different factors go into the acceptance of a town road and that questions such as the ability to plow a road efficiently is just one factor the council must weigh carefully along with many other considerations.
“I want to work this out because this is one of the first roads that did what we asked almost,” Maxfield said. “But someone’s getting stuck with the problem and it’s either the town or you and I’d like to make it a solution to make it the town.”
Maxfield raised the question of the town asking for a rider or an easement to protect itself into the future for dumping the snow from Abenaki Drive somewhere in the subdivision.
He told the residents that if accepted, the road will be there at least 150 years into the future, but some future residents of Abenaki Drive may not want snow pushed into the culvert or onto their property and then future Windham taxpayers would have to find a different way to get rid of the snow.
Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts suggested that the council postpone a decision about accepting Abenaki Drive as a town road until Fortier could take a town snowplow there and see what can actually be accomplished on the roadway with a larger type of vehicle and where the snow could be pushed to safely and efficiently in the subdivision.
Councilors then voted to follow Tibbetts’ suggestion and will take up the issue again at the Sept. 28 council meeting. <