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Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes

Any and all corrections to the following minutes will be made at the 02/06/03 Board of Selectmen's Meeting and are considered unapproved until then. Corrections will be noted in the minutes of that meeting.

MINUTES - ROAD DISCONTINUANCE HEARING
JANUARY 23rd, 2003
NEWFANE TOWN OFFICE

PRESENT:
Selectmen: Piet van Loon, Jesse Anderson, Gorty Baldwin, Lynn Bedell and Gary Katz.
Also Present: Susan Daigneault, Jennifer Kearney, Dennis Landers, Patty Landers, and Wendy Johnson as abutting property owners, Richard Wilson, Jr., Edward Druke, Sr., Carleen Pelsue, Merrilyn Van Gelder, Paul D. Van Gelder, John Spicer, Larry Robinson, Patricia C. Smith as interested citizens, James O. Gray as Road Foreman, and Doris Knechtel as Administrative Assistant.
The hearing was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Chairman Piet van Loon.
The Legal Notice for the hearing was read by Chairman P. van Loon. The notice was published in the Brattleboro Reformer, posted at the Town Office, Newfane Store, Williamsville General Store, South Newfane General Store & Deli, www.newfanevt.com, and sent by certified mail to all abutting property owners, interested and those required by law.

1. SEARS ROAD (TH#44) - Beginning at the intersection with Grimes Hill Road (TH#5) and proceeding in a southeastly direction for a distance of 0.20 miles to the intersection with Vermont Route 30.
P. van Loon explained that the request to discontinue Sears Road (TH#44) came from a letter signed by the property owners abutting the highway. If the highway is discontinued, the three rod road reverts to the abutting owners or to the owner of record from whose property the road was originally laid out.
The Road Foreman, J. Gray submitted a written report, stating the reasons why he is opposed to the discontinuance of Sears Road (TH#44) from the town highway system. The report was read by P. van Loon.
The members of the public were asked to speak to the public good, necessity and convenience of the effect on the general public and the individuals if this road were to be discontinued as proposed.
M. Van Gelder and P. Van Gelder indicated that vehicles entering Route 30 from Sears Road should not be allowed to make a left hand turn as the sight distance is limited. They have witnessed three or four accidents there. If Sears Road is closed, vehicles would have to use Grimes Hill Road to get to VT Route 30 with the exception of the Johnson and Daigneault abutting property owners.
J. Spicer spoke of the intersection of Grimes Hill Road with VT Route 30 as being dangerous. There is no breakdown lane coming off of VT Route 30. When entering VT Route 30 it is difficult to see vehicles coming over the brow of the hill by the Log Cabin Gift Shop. He often uses Sears Road to enter VT Route 30 rather than Grimes Hill Road.
Susan Daigneault supports the closing of the road. She indicated that she had asked the Sheriff to observe the vehicles that speed down the road. The Deputy Sheriff indicated that the road was not posted so he could not issue a ticket. Children are playing in the yard which is close to the highway. The speed limit on the road is 30 mph. S. Daigneault feels that 20 mph is too fast. She would like to see the speed limit changed to 15 mph. Drivers are not respectful of others. People don't need to use Sears Road as they have an alternate route to get to VT Route 30.
R. Wilson stressed that he would not like to see the town give up a right-of-way that is being used. If the problem is speeding, then the speed limit could be changed and enforced.
J. Kearney indicated that the traffic has changed over the years. People used to use the road for walking and jogging. Now with the increased speed of the traffic, it has become too dangerous to walk or jog.
W. Johnson supports the reasons of concern for safety. She also understands the reasons that the Kearney's desire to discontinue the road as it goes right through their yard, bisecting their property, leaving little or no privacy. She also indicated that she is not strongly for or against the closing of the road. The Johnson's access the road about midway on the road. They will incur some costs for maintaining the road if it is discontinued and becomes their driveway.
E. Druke indicated that he didn't think it was an unsafe road. If it does become a private road, there is still the issue of a left turn onto VT Route 30 for those who live on the road.
C. Pelsue sympathizes with the issue of the speed, which maybe should be addressed first. She indicated that the Town Highway crew takes wonderful care of the roads and she gives a lot of weight to the opinions expressed by the Road Foreman. Those that acquired property within the last few years knew the road was there when the land was purchased.
J. Gray indicated that the road could be posted for 25 mph with engineering studies of traffic use and speeds. There was a study done for eight days in October which showed 312 vehicles, of which 19 were trucks, that showed the average speed of 240 vehicles to be between 21 to 30 mph.
L. Bedell stated that the road could be used in an emergency but be closed to through traffic.
D. Landers does not want to have to incur any costs for the closing of the road. He also does not want to give up the right to continue to walk up to Grimes Hill Road should Sears Road is discontinued. Is Mr. Kearney going to accept the liability of people walking on what would become his private property?
There was discussion about who would be paying for the costs to give an easement to the Johnson's, who would become landlocked, and other costs that may be associated with the closing of the road and come to some agreement. Some indicated that Mr. Kearney had agreed to pay for the costs. The abutting owners will need to meet as a group to determine that issue.
P. van Loon suggested that the town look into the possibility of lowering the speed limit and also look into the possibility of making the road "not a thru way". The Board will not be making a decision at this meeting as there needs to be an inspection as part of the process to discontinue a road. A date and time for a site visit will be determined in the near future.
Motion was made by G. Katz and seconded by J. Anderson to recess the hearing at 8:09 p.m. until a date to be determined in the near future for the examination of Sears Road (TH#44). Unanimous.

Doris A. Knechtel, Administrative Assistant
Newfane Board of Selectmen
Posted: Town Clerk's Office, Newfane Store, Williamsville General Store, and South Newfane General Store & Deli. www.newfanevt.com


ROAD FOREMAN
TOWN OF NEWFANE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT
SEARS ROAD CLOSURE HEARING - 01/23/03
1. Sears Road is a through route not a driveway. It is used by town highway vehicles, mail service, many Grimes Hill Road, Newfane Hill, and Newfane residents.
2. When Depot Road or Grimes Hill Road is closed, Sears Road is used for a detour to Route 30. It has been used many times in the past during emergencies. The Grimes Hill Road/Route 30 intersection is dangerous.
3. Drainage relating to Grimes Hill Road should not be changed. During heavy rains or floods existing drainage is needed. This drainage was reviewed by Bill Noyes, District 2 Highway Technician, VT Department of Highways and approved by Bill.
4. I am opposed to the closure of Sears Road for the above reasons. It is my recommendation that Sears Road remain as it is, a one way through route.

Respectfully submitted,
James O. Gray

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