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Roads need new petitions for work

January 18, 2011
CHARLTON — Selectmen last week approved allowing private roads to be maintained for five-year stretches provided abutters petition for such repairs.

That expands a practice the town's been following since 2006, when it accepted a section of state law but made petitions valid for two years at a time. The change doesn't affect snow plowing, which has been legal since 1963 and doesn't require petitions.

According to Highway Director Gerry Foskett, there are 59 private roads summing to about 12.5 miles. This issue was sparked by residents on one of them, the mile-long Bay Path Road, who asked a few weeks ago for maintenance.

Foskett said the law allows "temporary repairs," but is vaguely worded and the town can do "up to full-depth pulverization and paving." The only limit is the availability of town funds, which he dubbed a "real quandary" because it's illegal to use state Chapter 90 money on private roads.

"All [current] petitions have gone by," he noted. "It's been two years or more for all of them."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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