Board reverses on some plowing; A few unaccepted streets get OK.
UXBRIDGE - After notifying the residents on 14 unaccepted streets and private ways that the town would not plow their streets this winter, selectmen reversed course last night before a crowd of upset residents.
The residents received notices in the mail in November that their streets, some of which had been plowed by the town for as many as seven years, would not be plowed this winter. Residents filled the selectmen's meeting room at Town Hall to express their displeasure with the town's new policy.
Selectmen drew up the policy change last spring, but were hopeful that many of the streets would be accepted at last week's annual town meeting. A handful were accepted, but many more were not.
Residents told selectmen that leaving the streets unplowed would create public safety problems. They also said that for some of the older unaccepted streets, the builder who built them was long gone, leaving them no way to get the road accepted as a public street
"What recourse do we have?" asked Nancy Lyle of Buttermilk Way. "From what I understand, the builder is out of business, but he still owns the street. Where do we go from here?"
The issue of converting Buttermilk Way and other unaccepted streets into accepted public streets was left for another day.
But after hearing from residents, selectmen decided to change the wording of their policy to allow the town to continue plowing the 14 roads that it has traditionally plowed this winter. The remaining unaccepted streets and private ways that the town never plowed will not be plowed this winter.
Total cost to plow and sand these private roads last winter was $54,000, according to town financial records.
"Of great concern to the town is liability exposure," said Kevin J. Kuros, chairman of the selectmen. "All we want to do is limit the liability to the same as any public road."
Selectmen did create one hurdle for residents on these streets to overcome. Residents must sign a waiver in 30 days, agreeing to cap the town's liability. If all of the residents on an unaccepted street do not sign the waiver, selectmen said, they will consider stopping the town from plowing the road.
"You're asking us, in the eleventh hour, to take on responsibility for plowing our roads," said Dr. Darnell Worley of Kasey Court. Several other residents expressed similar concerns.
The liability issue centers on damage caused by snowplows.
If a snowplow hits a car or a mailbox on a public road, state law limits the amount the town is liable to pay. On unaccepted streets, however, there is no legal cap. Selectmen want residents on those unaccepted streets to sign waivers capping the liability at the same level as residents on public streets.
Selectmen said they will mail residents on the streets a copy of the waiver, as well as putting it on the town's Web site, www.uxbridge-ma.gov.
In addition to Buttermilk Way, the other unaccepted streets that the town will plow this winter are Anthony's Way, Coldspring Drive, Connor Pass, Cotton Mill Way, Crownshield Avenue, Dunny Cove Road, Easy Street, Gary Lane, Giacamo Way, Kasey Court, Jodie Circle, Serenity Drive and Spinning Wheel Drive.
All other unaccepted streets and private ways, 17 in all, will be plowed by contractors paid by the builder of the street, or by the residents on the street.
NAME: UXBRIDGE SELECTMEN