FARMINGTON – The Franklin County Commissioners discussed several agenda items relating to the unorganized territory roads in their meeting Monday, which was postponed from last week due to a COVID-19 exposure.
The commissioners held a public hearing on the Kennebago Road. There is a section, 1.6 miles, that the county has not maintained in over thirty years, County Administrator Amy Bernard said. The commissioners were approached earlier in the summer by a property owner that needed documentation that the road has a public easement in order to have utility lines installed to the property, but the road was never formally closed. That section of road is considered discontinued due to abandonment, but it needs to be documented.
Bernard explained that if the commissioners voted to formally close the road, they would make a very specifically worded motion, at which point there would be a ten day appeal period. After that, Bernard can sign the document and have it recorded in the Registry of Deeds. Then the property owner can obtain the paperwork necessary to show that the section of road is discontinued.
The county will retain a public easement for access on the road.
Roberta Manter with Maine ROADWays (Residents & Owners on Abandoned & Discontinued Ways) spoke briefly to say that the county appeared to have everything in order for the process of handling the ‘orphaned’ road.
The commissioners voted to discontinue the section of the Kennebago Road between the turnaround at the east branch of Bonny Brook and the west branch of Bonny Brook.
Eric Tanner, a resident who is building a house on Beech Hill Road in Madrid Township, requested that the commissioners consider extending the length of road that is maintained during the winter months. Beech Hill Road is maintained by the county, but only plowed for a set distance. Tanner requested that the county extend that length by around 1,100 feet to access the resident’s driveway. He said that the house being built would increase the property tax revenue, potentially off-setting the cost of expanded road maintenance.
Bernard said there are no records of that section of road being maintained by the Town of Madrid prior to the town’s disincorporation, and the county has never maintained it. She said the road may need work to meet the county’s snowplowing contracts and there is a process for opening a roadway for county maintenance.
Commissioner Terry Brann asked to know the cost of reopening the road, which was unknown.
Bernard also raised some concerns about the UT roads budget, saying that for the last four years, the expenses have gone over the budget. She is concerned about the trend and says the county needs to do a better job budgeting for the roads.
Road Commissioner Mike Pond added that he thought the county should include a reserve account for emergencies such as flood events and road washouts.
In other business, the commissioners reviewed several additional items for the unorganized territory TIF. A request was made to amend the TIF to include childcare facilities as an eligible TIF project, but it was brought to the county’s attention that there were additional projects that the Legislature recently added to the list of options for TIF districts. These include:
– Transit-oriented development within the district.
– Recreational trail development within the district.
– Financing costs, professional services costs, and organization costs related to the district.
– Affordable housing within the district.
– Affordable housing outside of the district – to serve economic development or assist with homelessness.
– Environmental improvements.
– Quality childcare and adult care facilities.
– Public safety facilities related to economic development – not to exceed 15% CAV.
Amending the TIF to include these categories does not mean that projects have to be funded, but it allows the county to have more flexibility if a good project did come up. It would also save the county expense to add all of the options to the current amendment rather than have the attorney rewrite it again.
Bernard said the county has amended the TIF five times in fifteen years.
The commissioners decided to table this item until they had a full board present.
This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and is available for viewing online at MtBlueTV.org