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Harpswell may accept ownership of Lower Road

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Harpswell may accept ownership of Lower Road

HARPSWELL — Whether the town is responsible for a dead-end road on Orrs Island may soon be decided, after town officials and others met on Lower Road Tuesday night to determine where past snow plowers have traditionally turned around.

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said the next step is for the Board of Selectmen to authorize the road's legal status, which might happen Sept. 20.

For now, the town has determined the turn-around is where it has been since 1980: at the front of Arnold and Nancy Bennett's driveway, Eiane said.

They didn't mind.

In fact, they prefer Lower Road as a town road, so town workers could continue to work on damaged culverts along the drive and other future maintenance that might be required, according to the minutes from the Aug. 9 selectmen's meeting.

This week's site visit was authorized by the board at an Aug. 23 meeting, on the recommendation of the town administrator.

The issue came up when Ronald Ponziani became the town's current road commissioner, Ponziani said, and he was asked by Arnold Bennett why culverts on Lower Road weren't being repaired.

"It used to be taken care of," Ponziani said on Tuesday.

While the road commissioner said he maintained that the road belongs to the town, Eiane indicated that was unclear and began to look into the matter.

After hearing testimony Aug. 9 from several residents – including Ed Johnson, who said the road had been maintained for 80 years – Eiane said she sought advice from the town's attorney.

There had been "incomplete" and "inconclusive" records prior to 2000 on whether the town was responsible for plowing the snow on the dead-end road, Eiane said.

If the Board of Selectmen authorizes Lower Road as a town road, Eiane said, "it will become a responsibility of the town."

And although no one has challenged the road's path to legal status, she said anyone is free to dispute the decision in court.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him onTwitter: @DylanLJMartin.