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More in News
Old road raises questions about Young
PARIS — Glen Young, who resigned from the board of selectmen earlier this year, has asked the selectboard for permission to use a road, raising questions about a statement he made while in office.
"We have received a request from Jackie and Glen Young to use Colby Farm Road to access a wood lot they own in West Paris," Town Manager Phil Tarr wrote to the selectboard last week. "The purpose of the request is due to their plans to harvest timber on this lot."
Selectmen say that Young's level of access to his abutting woodlot is a matter of controversy.
"I was surprised by the request," said Selectman Ted Kurtz.
The road, and Young's relationship to it, have a history in the town.
Colby Farm Road was at the center of a court case, in which the town argued that it had abandoned the road and should no longer be required to maintain it.
"The court ruled against the town, leaving the Colby Farm Road a public way," said Tarr.
"The court rejected our argument that we had abandoned the road, which leaves it as a town road," said Kurtz.
Tarr's memo to the board of selectmen indicated that Young had no access to his wood lot other than through Colby Farm Road.
"The lot the Young's own is apparently landlocked, except that access to the lot is available by using a short portion of this road that is in West Paris," wrote Tarr, who had spoken with Young about the matter.
"I understood [Tarr] to tell us that Young told him he, Young, has no other access," said Kurtz.
However, at least three members of the selectboard say that this description is contrary to what Young said about access to the property in the past, when a lack of access would have create a conflict of interest for him.
"I think at one meeting Glen said he had another way to get in there," said Smart.
"He did," said Herrick. "He said he had access."
Kurtz said that the question of Young's access to the road came up when Young was a selectman, and Colby Farm Road entered litigation.
At the time, Kurtz was acting as town counsel.
"My analysis on the spot was that if Young had legal access to his property in West Paris other than by the Colby Farm Road, then he could participate in the discussion and decision because he essentially did not have an interest in the Colby Farm Road different from that of any member of the public," said Kurtz. "But, on the other hand, if he had no such other legal means of access, then he had a special interest in the Colby Farm Road ... and he should therefore abstain from participation."
At the time, Kurtz says, Young said that he had access to the lot other than by using Colby Farm Road.
"When I presented this question to Young, he adamantly insisted he had other access and therefore would continue to participate in the evening's activities," said Kurtz. "I later was told that he had no such other means of access, but the moment had passed and I did nothing."
"I want to know more about this situation before I make up my mind," said Kurtz.
Ordinarily a public road would be usable by any member of the public, which would make Young's request unnecessary.
Tarr said that he had gotten a letter from the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) that said as much.
"It's a public road, and a person really doesn't need permission to use it. It's a public road so they can go ahead and use it," said Tarr.
However, last year, the town voted to discontinue winter maintenance of the road for 10 years, which Tarr says is likely to impact the Youngs' request.
"We'll need to pull that out and see whether the town actually voted," said Tarr. "What I got from MMA today did not address a closing for the winter period."
As of Monday morning, Tarr said had not had a chance to read the 2009 vote.
The right decision
Collaborating with the Youngs now could save the town money in the long run.
"Glen offered to stump out the shoulders of the road and provide equipment to rebuild the road," said Tarr. "Under this plan the Town would provide gravel to the site and any culverts that are needed for drainage."
That could be a cost-saving measure to the town, if it is eventually forced to maintain the road anyway.
"Is there merit in considering Glen Young's request knowing that eventually, the Town may have to rebuild this road?" asked Tarr.
However, if the town grants permission to Young to use the road in its current condition, this could lead to other legal problems.
"If we decide to allow the road to be used to access this lot without rebuilding it first, who will be responsible to repair the damage caused by logging equipment?" asked Tarr.
The selectboard did not take action on the request, and Tarr says that it may not ever need to.
"The fact that it is closed to winter maintenance... made moot the need to discuss upgrade costs, since the Youngs will probably want to log their property this winter," said Tarr. "The issue kind of disappeared at the meeting due to the fact that it is a public road so no decision was needed in this regard."
Young had not responded as of press time.