"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Friday, January 20, 2017

NH House Bill 181 Would Require Abutters of Private Roads to Maintain and Remove Snow From Them

This bill was mentioned last evening during the public hearing regarding the recommended minimums for private roads and was a bit misleading. If you are in favor of the Town continuing to plow private roads in the winter, this is not a bill you want to see passed.

A hearing on this bill was scheduled for January 17th in the House Public Works and Highways Committee. 

NH House Bill 181: The bill amends RSA 231 by adding section 89, which states in part: (bold is mine) I.  The owner of any residential property that abuts a private road, the purpose of which is to provide access to such property, shall be responsible for the cost of maintaining the road in good repair and for the cost of repairing or restoring any damaged portion of the road.  Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, the removal of snow from the road.

This is the email address for the members of the House Public Works and Highways: 

HousePublicWorksandHighways@leg.state.nh.us




4 comments:

Joseph Cormier said...

HB 181… 2017
The first section of hb 181 is :
“I. The owner of any residential property that abuts a private road, the purpose of which is to provide access to such property, shall be responsible for the cost of maintaining the road in good repair and for the cost of repairing or restoring any damaged portion of the road. Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, the removal of snow from the road.”

What about a business that abuts a private road? Does a business get a pass while a resident has to maintain?

A debate on all of hb 181 should be welcomed. Divert the conversation, to have the legislature attend to NH doesn’t have a legal definition of a “private road”.

The state has seven (7) road classifications; RSA 229:5
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XX/229/229-mrg.htm

The NH courts presently decide, if litigation doesn’t involve those 7 classifications … must be a private road! How can there be intelligent debate without definition? The legislature should make that a priority!

Last night’s policy #2 public hearing was mild, compared to what will probably come up whenever the Select Board has an imminent public hearing on policy #1, where the town has written policy on snowplowing private roads. Why isn’t anyone asking for the difference between “Policy” and “Ordinance” on the town website! Town counsel should be providing legal advice on Policy #1 soon … can’t wait to hear that!

Anytime the government gets involved with private property, maybe, “unconstitutional” should pop up in citizen’s minds! Read the following NH Municipal Association article for more food for thought and pay attention to “emergency lanes”.

Q. What about Class VI roads, private roads and driveways? Do the same rules apply? A. No. Municipalities have no legal obligation to plow, salt or sand Class VI or private roads, sidewalks along those roads, or private driveways. More importantly, municipalities have very limited authority to clear these areas. Municipalities have legal authority to spend public money to maintain only Class IV and Class V roads, sidewalks and bridges. RSA 231:59. This means that, in most cases, such maintenance should not be happening. When it does, it may lead to unintended consequences.

“Another unintended result may be the creation of a new Class V public road where a private road existed before. With respect to private roads or driveways, a 1952 opinion of the New Hampshire Supreme Court clearly stated that municipalities may only maintain private roads or driveways if: the maintenance is subordinate and incidental to public highway maintenance (in other words, the work does not significantly alter the municipality’s manpower and equipment needs or its snow maintenance plan); and the landowner pays the municipality the cost of the service.”

https://www.nhmunicipal.org/TownAndCity/Article/282

This a 2009 article. Time to get the legislature to update state laws, including allowing plowing private roads. There is already an exception for "emergency lanes". There should be state law exempting plowing private roads. The courts have stated some, about "reimbursement". Why isn't a landowner's taxes considered "reimbursement" ?

Anonymous said...

Isn't that what my taxes are for?

Charlie Fritz said...

This is ridiculous. People who live on "private" roads pay as much or more in taxes as people on public roads. The towns have less cost on these roads as they typically only provide snow removal and bear no responsibility for maintenance, paving etc. As a safety matter, fire emergency services and police need unobstructed access.

Fred Van Magness said...

Earlier this week I sent in to the state and the bill sponsor a requested draft change to the language to reword the snow plowing offensive language. It is time the state got their nose out of local issues. I agree....other folks need to get their concerns in to the State!!!!I Interestingly a similar bill was disposed of last year as Inexpedient to legislate. Concerning Emergency Lanes, the RSA needs to be changed to give more flexibility.