By Harry Sullivan TRURO DAILY NEWS
TRURO – Colchester County is examining the process it uses in having a private road designated with public road status.
Property developers who develop within Colchester County are required to construct a road to access each lot on the site. Such roads are designated as ‘private’ unless the developer agrees to bring it up to the standard of a public road, at which point an application can be made to have ownership of the road assumed by the municipality.
The benefit in such cases to those who purchase building lots is that the municipality is responsible for snow clearing and general maintenance of roads that received a public designation.
There are also many private (gravel) roads within the county that have existed for years leading to rural, wooded locations or cottage country destinations.
In 2009, council was asked to take ownership of a newly constructed road in “cottage country” at Barrachois after the developer determined it made more financial sense to construct a private road versus one built to public standards, because of the small cost difference between the two.
“In my opinion, a mistake was made over in Barrachois,” Coun. Ron Cavanaugh said during discussion at a recent council meeting.
As an alternative, he suggested in such cases, that a developer must sell a pre-determined, minimum number of building lots before the municipality would agreed to assume ownership.
Given that public roads are much more expensive to maintain, along with the fact that more developers are beginning to catch on to the fact that the municipality will assume ownership of roads built to the higher standard, staff brought the issue to council’s attention in an effort to establish more clear and up to date guidelines around the issue.
“Maybe the standard for private roads is too high,” Crawford Macpherson, the municipality’s director of community development said during a recent council meeting. “Maybe we should lower that standard (to broaden the construction cost between the two).”
Currently, there are 291 private roads, which cover 150 kilometres within Colchester and which are listed with civic numbers. If the county were to assume ownership of all those roads the maintenance cost would be more than $800,000.
“Can we afford this?” Coun. Doug MacInness asked.
Coun. Karen MacKenzie, meanwhile, suggested that anyone who buys a building lot on a private road should accept there will be no municipal maintenance provided because they should have known at the time of purchase it was not situated on a public road.
Council referred the matter to its public advisory committee for future discussion.