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Does town road boundary include driveway?
MEXICO -- When selectmen meet Tuesday, they will continue discussion about whether the exact end of the Backkingdom Road includes the 300 feet or so of Albert Aniel's driveway.
Determining those boundaries will dictate if the town will continue to plow that driveway this winter.
Town Manager John Madigan said that in his research, he learned that minutes from a town meeting in 1848 showed town acceptance of the road up to the doorstep of the Mitchell property, now owned by Aniel. However in 1864, an article was found on the town meeting agenda that discontinued the road to the east line of the property.
Madigan cross-checked with deeds to the property and historical town maps and discovered two "similar" names were listed on multiple deeds. "What we don't know is if it's the same person or same residence."
He added this could be a case of a person's signature that was incorrectly read.
Another aspect that makes this very difficult is that reference back in the day was not made to roads. Instead, landmarks such as trees, rocks and an owner's house were referenced as well as a measurement in rods.
The rod is a unit of length equal to 5.5 yards, 5.0292 metres or 16.5 feet. Despite no longer being in widespread use, the rod is still employed in certain specialized fields. In recreational canoeing, maps measure portages (overland paths where canoes must be carried) in rods; typical canoes are approximately one rod long.
In 1992, Aniel signed a release of liability waiver with the then Board of Selectmen, extending from the pavement of the Backkingdom Road to his house.
Selectman George Byam noted that the Maine Municipal Association prohibits public funds to be used to maintain a private road.
Aniel said there are a couple of residents nearby who also have their driveways plowed by the town and that the town needs to either continue to maintain all three of these or none of them.
He said the 300 feet leading to his residence has been plowed by the town since the 1930's, with exception of a small number of years when one of the owners of the home had the driveway gated.
Near the Aniel property is a now town maintained cemetery, with headstones dating back beyond the Revolutionary War.
Lifelong resident Betty Barrett, 86, said the area was also used in the past as a turnaround for school buses.
Aniel said his research showed that as far back as from 1927-30, the town plowed from what was then called the Backkingdom Brook Road, from the Thad White Bridge to Aniel's house.
He added that if this is an accepted road, the dirt drive should be tarred like the rest of the Backkingdom Road, which is currently undergoing improvements.
Selectman Reggie Arsenault recommended that the town get a legal opinion from the Maine Municipal Association.
"A title search would take a lot of time. If done with a town attorney, it's going to cost a lot of money," noted Madigan noted, "The deeper you go, the more you find."
Madigan added that Sheryl Briggs, the town's executive secretary, did research on the registry as well.
In other business, the board unanimously decided to give an old town truck that had been parked for two years at the Mexico Recreation Park to Todd Wardwell, who is chairman of the town's recreation board. The truck had been vandalized and failed inspection, and was partially covered with a blue tarp.
They decided to take this action despite a $500 check they had received from Dixfield Salvage for the vehicle.
Before motioning to give the truck to Wardwell, Selectman Peter Merrill said, "I suggest the board give the truck to Todd Wardwell for all the work he's done in the park."
Selectman Byron Ouellette echoed that sentiment.
The board also approved a $41,017 grant application to the state, submitted by Nick Brown of the Mexico Trailblazers Snowmobile Club. The annual application goes through the town but does not result in any added town expense.