2016-11-10 / Letters

Watchdog group suggests streamlining Saco’s roads

To the editor:

The city of Saco should rethink its policy regarding private roads. Saco has 64 private roads, totaling 10.43 miles, with 187 homes. Why change the policy?

The major reason is that these private roads may require upgrading to current standards. The cost of the upgrade would not fall on the individual(s) that created and live there, but would fall on all Saco taxpayers. Upgrading these private roads could be a challenge without easements, proper planning for utilities, storm water systems, emergency service access and the like.

Picture a fire truck responding to a call rumbling down an improved road, then hitting a stretch of an unpaved and unmaintained roadway. The truck becomes mired down rendering itself unresponsive; worse still, this fire truck blocks other emergency vehicles from passing.

What will follow are questions and calls as to whom is to blame. Think of a house that burnt down or the death of a loved one resulting from unimproved roads. Lawsuits will follow involving the city, our elected officials, abutting neighbors, developers, mortgage holders, etc. During the interim neighbors will pressure the city to improve the unaccepted roadway. Guess who will be asked to pay for the upgrade? More than likely, all the taxpayers in Saco.

Current Saco zoning allows building on these unimproved roadways and in some cases on previously abandoned roads. The current policy has resulted in a maze of unimproved private roads connecting to improved roads within a small area. The city’s current policies are a result of haphazard development and pressure to continue the same approach. Look at the current Berry Road area as an example. A maze of improved, unimproved and abandoned roadways with houses all within a stone’s throw of each section of a roadway.

The insert (please see link below) represents a section of the Berry Road area. This reflects the current state of a creeping maze of bad policy involving private roads in the city. Private roads are marked in red. The insert section of the map shows the Berry Road area. There are other similar situations throughout the city. Please reference Council Packet, October 11, 16 Item B, page 4 – private roads diagram http://www.sacomaine.org/Council%20 Packet%2010.11.16.pdf.

Saco Citizens for Sensible Government’s recommendation is for the city council to preclude development on unimproved, unacceptable or abandoned roads.

John Harkins, chairman Saco Citizens for Sensible Government

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