TOWN OF EDGECOMB MINUTES OF THE SELECTMEN'S MEETING
July 17, 2006
Attended: Frank Perkins, Jr., Jo Cameron, Stuart Smith; Road Commissioner Scott Griffin; Claudia Coffin, Town Treasurer; Charlotte Boynton, press
MINUTES of July 10, 2006 approved as read.
Treasurer Coffin said a Financial Statement should have appeared with this warrant item at Town Meeting; perhaps we can make this correction at a Special Town Meeting
Frank will ask Scott Griffin if H.C. Crooker prefers payment all at once or over time. A lump sum is preferable, as will have no impact on our tax commitment. The bank should receive a schedule of payments before the time of tax commitment, in order for the Selectmen to set Edgecomb's tax rate. Frank will ask Rodd about this. A list of all vendors and suppliers of material and equipment is needed
Pending the Town's agreement to accept responsibility for the Baptist Cemetery, it was agreed that the repair and cleaning of stones should be put off until summer of 2007.
#2 = $66,753.11
#201 = $305.35
Town Office Numbers
Telephone (207) 882-7018
Fax (207) 882-7381
PUBLIC HEARING CONCERNING A DETERMINATION OF ABANDONMENT OF THE OLD FORT ROAD SPUR, July 17, 2006:
Among those attending: John Johnson and Gretchen Burleigh-Johnson; Corning and Tita Townsend; Stott and Bobbie Carleton; Bob Brown, Rodd Hopper, John Pels, Bob Zak, Tom and Gail Boudin, Andi Burt, Peter Nichols, David Boucher, attorney Jim Hopkinson et al.
Selectman Frank Perkins, Jr. opened the hearing by stating that the Town has engaged attorney Eliot Field to research this matter. Field has told him that on the face of the issue, the Town need not give up its right of way.
It was noted that other lawyers had given opinions to the effect, "If a road disappears, its public easement disappears." Perkins noted that the lawyers mentioned did not claim to be experts in road law.
How long can a road be ignored before it is abandoned? Selectman Stuart Smith reminded the meeting that the issue was not the road but the public right-of-way. Former Selectman Rodd Hopper said that an earlier case involving the Schmid Preserve and Old County Road had shown that if a road is abandoned by neglect, the right of way remains. If, however, the Town votes the road to be abandoned, the right of way reverts to the abutters. Former Harbor Master Stott Carleton asked, Where is it written that a public right of way exists for the Fort Road Spur?
Tom Boudin, chairman of the Town's Boat Landing Committee, pointed out that the Spur is not a good place for a boat landing. Its shore edge is a steep ledge down to an expanse of seaweed at low tide. [Photographs were circulated, illustrating this.] Others noted that the river current is very strong at that location. Issues of liability, whether personal or Town, were raised, if it ever occurred that someone were to fall in and drown.
Several suggested that the Fort Edgecomb Historic Site is under-utilized, with nice picnic facilities and walking paths down to the water's edge. The area to the right of the fragment of stockade is a gradual slope down to a rocky beach. Selectman Jo Cameron said that the State's Park Manager discouraged visitors from using the shore, as possible damage to archaeological remains, as well as the liability issue. Several persons responded that they went to that bit of beach all the time.
Former Selectman Bob Zak proposed that when the Bypass site is established, the Town might negotiate with the State Department of Transportation to allow a small public park with boat landing around the abutments of the bridge.
Stott Carleton said the issues of liability and policing seemed too serious to recommend that the Town acquire a public launch ramp. Since currently, Edgecomb boaters moor at marinas in Damariscotta, Wiscasset or Boothbay Harbor, he recommended that this practice should continue.
Andi Burt compared the Spur situation with a woods road near their home, not a public access but access for a neighbor to his interior property for the purpose of harvesting lumber. How is this different?
Attorney Jim Hopkinson, representing the Townsends and the Burleigh-Johnsons, stated that their request to make a determination based on the facts of the matter had been frustrated since the Town could provide no facts of the matter other than the fact of the Spur's establishment by Town Meeting in 1902. A Town's taking for a road is not necessarily an easement nor a right of way. He cited case law that intermittent maintenance or occasional casual walking are not sufficient to defeat a road's abandonment. Maine statute sets a limit of 30 years. If, from the date Sept. 3, 1965, there has been no sign of Town maintenance on this road, then no public easement is maintained. In the matter of Plummer vs. Town of Edgecomb, no claim had been made of common law abandonment, hence the easement has been retained. If the Town decides to do nothing, his clients' next step would be to go to court. Mr. Hopkinson asked the Selectmen to make a determination in favor of abandoning the Old Fort Road Spur, with any associated rights of way.
At this point Selectman Perkins read four letters from Edgecomb residents into the minutes. See Appendices II - V. They were rebutted in part by Mrs. Townsend, who gave the Selectmen another letter giving a different opinion. See Appendix VI.
Former Selectman Bob Brown asked who would pay for the survey for the abutters? Selectman Smith said the law is that reversion is measured from the middle of the right of way for each abutter, and then taxes can be paid on it. Brown wondered if the Town has to survey this piece, then, since there are a good five miles of abandoned road in the Town, must the Town survey all those in order to give them back to their abutters?
Attorney Hopkinson said the Town was under no obligation to survey the Spur. An assessor will determine any change in the tax status of the abutters.
Brown asked if the clients could present a warrant item requesting the Spur's abandonment at the next Town Meeting for Edgecomb's citizens to vote on. Hopkinson said, no, this application is to the Selectmen. John Pels said the Selectmen do not have the right to relinquish the right of way. Only the Town may do so. Hopkinson cited the Maine Municipal Association's Road Manual on the point. Rodd Hopper recommended that the Selectmen go to attorney Eliot Field to learn the Town's liabilities and obligations in this matter.
E-Mail of Suzanne Carlson, 94 Cross Point Road, to email@example.com, Monday, July 17, 2006
I'm sorry that I can't be at the meeting this afternoon, but I would like to state my support for retaining the old ferry landing easement on Davis Island as town property reserved for town use. In the future there may be some completely unforeseen circumstance where this access may prove invaluable, perhaps for an unimagined emergency. I urge you to consider this in terms of future benefit for all of Edgecomb's townspeople
E-Mail of Jacqueline L. Hall, 274 Eddy Road, to firstname.lastname@example.org, Thursday, July 6, 2006
If you want to keep this [Spur right of way] for town purposes, you may want to check on the fact that there was no need to maintain this with it being ledge and that Gretchen Burleigh-Johnson's father, Phil Burleigh, Sr., used it as a driveway until he died sometime in the sixties. This information is from my husband's (James Hall) memory since he had been living on Davis Island since before that time and spent a great deal of time in that part of the island. If there was no need to maintain this property this should not be used as a reason to call it "abandoned" by the town. If this were used for a dock, it wouldn't be being used in the winter, no plowing needed, nothing to maintain in the summer with it being ledge. This being a place that could possibly be used by the town for a dock, it would seem a shame to give it up so easily, if in fact anyone thinks it would be a remote possibility for townspeople to use.
E-mail of Margaret Schuler, 661 River Road, to email@example.com, Monday, July 17, 2006
Access to Parks and Water is hard to come by and expensive to buy. The town should keep its old and historic access roads and right of ways. This would include access to the Sheepscot on the Old Fort spur Road.
Also other roads that access the Schmid Preserve should be maintained for access, by foot or other, such as East [Mount} Hunger Road. Also the Spring Hill Road could access the Schmid Preserve and intersect with the "Old River Road" and Dodge Road. The citizens of many years ago worked hard to build these roads for the town. It would be wise to keep them.
Letter from Andrew Abello and Amanda Russell, 372 Middle Road, to the Town of Edgecomb, July 15, 2006
As residents of the Town of Edgecomb, we feel very strongly that any type of access to either of the salt-water rivers that line Edgecomb's shores (the Damariscotta or the Sheepscot) should never, ever be relinquished by the Town of Edgecomb. As public access to the ocean becomes more and more a thing of great rarity every day, every year, every opportunity such as the one on the Fort Road must be diligently protected for both townspeople and the public in general. We all know that once access to the ocean is given up, more than likely it will never be attained again. This access may be Edgecomb people's only access to get from the land to the ocean in the future.
Again, we do not support the Town of Edgecomb losing any opportunity of access to the ocean off Fort Road, in whatever form it exists, that potentially will allow Edgecomb people the right to get to the ocean.
Letter from Robert M. Clunie, P.E., To Whom It May Concern, June 26, 2006
My family owned one of the abutting properties (#88 Fort Road) of the former Ferry Road on Davis Island in Edgecomb from 1977 until 2004. The other abutter was, and still is, Hortense Burleigh. I believe her family has lived there since the turn of the century.
During the period of time that we owned our property, we were never approached by any Town official concerning the road, nor did we ever see any Town official use the road for any purpose what-so-ever.
As a matter of fact, we had to remove some large stones that had been placed across the road in the early 1980s in order that we could access a dock that we built and shared with Hortense Burleigh at the end of the road. Accordingly, during my tenure, I kept the roadway clear and mowed, as we used the road constantly to access our boats and to take in and put out the dock and runway.