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What can i do to get my building permit/what are the road laws.

Hollis Center, ME |

Looking to get my house in.The road commisioner and code enforcement officer have been out numerous times. they have been less then jovial. They have told us what needs to be done to the road which is not a town road or a right of way ie: no outlet. They have changed what they want us to do several times and want to know where i can get the rules and guidelines for my town. Also if i need to get a lawyer to look deeper into this thanks.

Attorney Answers 4


You may want to talk to an attorney or an engineer who is familiar with the regulations in Maine and your Town.

Generally the skinny is this: it's no problem to build a house if it has access to a public road, the right of way the municipality owns or has an easement for, and which is maintained (pavement patched or graded, snow plowed) and built to official standards for width and durability.

By the same token, most municipalities, which are cash strapped these days and loathe to hire more employees or raise taxes (which at the local level are usually real property taxes) have little or no interest in building and maintaining new roads to allow developers far from public roads to build houses. Not only do they have to pay to build these roads, but also to maintain them.

Consequently, at the very minimum, a developer must usually build private rights of way to new development, and buy all the rights of ways or easements over all the land needed for the road, and either (1) maintain the road themselves as "private rights of way" where the developer is responsible for the maintenance and plowing or (2) if they allow the developer to "dedicate" the road to the municipality where it becomes a public road, it has to be built to Town engineering standards for width (for emergency vehicle access and two-way traffic), drainage (grading, culverts, ditches), gravel foundations and top coating of asphalt. That's because they don't want to spend any more money maintaining a poorly built road that washes out or needs frequent pothole replacement than they would on the normal municipal roads.

If they *do* allow dedication (and this is often a discretionary decision of the Town and Planning Boards and Highway Superintendents, because it adds to the number of miles of roads within the Town which must be maintained and plowed), the road at a minimum will have to be engineered and built to Town or County standards. And if the road is remote from the other nearest public roads, like a road a few miles away from the public road to your house and only serving your house, they will most likely **not** be interested in accepting your road as a public road.

I'm not sure what the "no outlet"/cul de sac requirement is all about. Probably that they're not interested in extending the road beyond your house if there's nothing else out there and not likely to be.

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You should be able to access your local codes for road access at the City (or whatever you local municipality may be). If after reviewing the code yourself, you are still confused or feel that the City is not interpreting is code accurately you should consult with a local attorney.

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You should see the codes online for the City, town or County you are in. There are standards that must be maintained even on private roads, because of safety and because of the necessity of public safety personnel, i.e. fire trucks, ambulances, police, etc. to get up your road, as well as the necessity of not creating erosion or water run off, utility access, parking requirements, and possibly others. Call your community development department and they should be able to refer you to the code sections, if you cannot find them online.

This response is not to be construed as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and provides general information on the subject at hand only.

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The land development process can become complicated depending on the location of your property, environmental issues, soil issues, and geotechnical issues among others.
If you are already encountering resistance from your local planning department, then it would be wise to consult with a land use attorney to help you navigate through the process.
Best of luck to you. Tim

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