View Full Version : maintanince rights for Town owned roads

Bob Weisner
05-18-2005, 2:11 PM

Does anyone know what the process is for getting a Town to take back the maintanence rights to a road that they abandoned almost 50 years ago, yet people still live on that road? The Town still owns the road, but they gave up the maintanence rights about 50 years ago. It was originally a state road. the State then abandoned it to the County. The County then abandoned it to the Town. The Town then abandoned the maintanence rights to the road but still retains ownership of the road. Any suggestions?


Cecil Arnold
05-18-2005, 4:44 PM
Off the top of my head I would think you could get the people who live on the road to petition the town councel to give up the rights, pointing out that they have failed to provide needed maintainance which should be a duty of "ownership." Failing that, I would attempt to get someone in the media involved, who could run a story to the effect that the town is failing in its duty and the people who live on the road are suffering.

Jeff Sudmeier
05-18-2005, 5:00 PM

I would say it is unusual for the town to give up maintanence rights but keep ownership of the road. In most cases that I have heard of the town giving up rights they give up ownership as well. A right of way is established and the ownership of the road goes to the property owners. Once ownership is transfered, maintanence is transfered as well.

This can be a good option because once it is private property you can put up private road signs and not allow "the public" access.

Jim Becker
05-18-2005, 5:41 PM
A right of way is established and the ownership of the road goes to the property owners.

Interestingly enough, the driveway we share with our neighbor is considered a right-of-way, ostensibly to the property behind ours, although it would never be used that way since it's a big, limestone rock cliff! But the real kicker is that it's also "un-deeded property" and not owned by anyone...no individual(s) nor by the township. "No-man's land"!!

Bob Weisner
05-18-2005, 5:59 PM
That's how it is. I would have thought that if they were going to abandon a road, they would totaly abandon it. But, they still retain ownership of the road. It is not much of a road, only about 600 feet in length. It was part of the old main road before they widened the state road and left the old section that is in front of my house stay where it is. This all happened in the mid 1940's. 1944 to 1946. Come to think of it, it is more like 60 years ago. What gets me is that the Town tells me that if I want to have the potholes fixed in the road, I will have to do that myself at my own expense.


John Shuk
05-18-2005, 7:23 PM
I'd keep after the town to fix it. I have a private road that I share with 3 neighbors. One of them is very nice and reasonable. The other 2 aren't. It is a real pain to deal with. One is trying to sell his home so I hope the people we get are better. I would love to have the town take the road over. There may be some things you can do to get them moving on this. Just being a thorn in their sides is a good start.

Tony Falotico
05-18-2005, 7:27 PM
The Town then abandoned the maintenance rights to the road but still retains ownership of the road.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'maintenance rights', that's a responsibility, not a right. If the Town still retains ownership (if it is a dedicated right of way), perhaps you might ask the Town's Attorney to explain to the Town Council what their LIABILITY is should someone get injured due to the Town's failure to maintain the roadway. Do you pay roadway taxes to the Town?

Bob Weisner
05-18-2005, 7:55 PM

The Town still owns the road. What they did was give up maintaining the road. They don't plow it. (I have to pay to have it plowed in the winter so that I can get to the main road), The potholes are my responsibility to fill each Spring. There is another road in my Town that the Town abandoned around the same time. They have a MUCH bigger problem.!! That road is about 1 1/2 -1 3/4 miles in length. There are approx. 6 or 7 houses on that road. I would not want to be the person that lives at the end of that road in the winter if that road did not get plowed out. :eek:


Bob Yarbrough
05-18-2005, 8:28 PM
1) I've been a Professional Land Surveyor for more years then I want to remember.

2) Contact a lawyer for an opinion.

3) Contact a surveyor for an opinion and start a "vacation" process where the land lying under the road is returned to the owners. Depending on location, land title system, etc, the process can be very straight forward or a royal PIA! The last road vacation I worked was a simple, straight forward process that still took 9 months of jumping through hoops. Also, the original ownership under the road will need to be researched so the adjoining owners get back what they deserve if the road is vacated and ownership is returned to the current road adjoiners.

4) THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!! If the road is vacated and ownership is returned, you will still need "ingress/egress" easements prepared to provided acces to your property. If easement are not in place, the owners at the junction of the "private" road and the "public" road could possibly block of access along the new "private" road. Blockage would proably not hold up in court, but could make for a lot of grief.

5) Good Luck

Tony Falotico
05-18-2005, 9:57 PM

The Town still owns the road. What they did was give up maintaining the road.

Bob: I deal with similar issues in Florida, and don't claim to know New York Laws, but if the Town still owns the land they cannot simply just give up the RESPONSIBILITY to maintain it. What do you pay taxes for ??

If that's the game the Town wants to play, retain ownership of your land and give up citizenship in the Town and don't pay taxes!

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this don't sound right to me.

Rob Russell
05-18-2005, 10:59 PM
If you go through Bob's process and take ownership of the road, wouldn't the town start assessing you taxes on it? That would seem like a double-edged sword, where you might take the road from the town andget stuck paying even more for the priviledge of maintaining the road.

Norman Hitt
05-19-2005, 4:56 AM
I agree with Tony on both counts. You might explain to their lawyer the liability they could incur should one of the houses on that road catch Fire, and the road condition would prevent the Fire Dept from getting to the fire, or an Ambulance arriving in case of Emergency. If that doesn't get his attention, then tell him that if the City won't honor their responsibility to use your taxes to maintain their road, then they are and have been Fraudulently taking your Tax money, and you folks will file suit to give up your Right/Responsibility to pay taxes to the city, and to Recoup all the taxes they have Fraudulently collected over the years. After all, what's good for the Goose, is good for the Gander.

Bob Yarbrough
05-19-2005, 9:38 PM
If you do take title to the property after a "vacation" process, it is assumed that your property has increased in value and your taxes will go up. If you do not vacate the road, and the town maintains ownership, ask them who to bill for maintaing the road in a safe enviroment.

Bob Weisner
05-19-2005, 11:52 PM

I asked the Town that. They said that I am responsible for paying for ALL maintainence(SP) , of the road. I pay for all the plowing and it looks like I am going to end up paying to have the road patched or resurfaced when it needs to be done. :( This past Winter was not too bad. But the prior Winter, I spent almost $300.00 just to have the road plowed out.


Bob Borzelleri
05-20-2005, 12:21 AM
Maybe I'm missing something here, but aren't you missing an opportunity to invest in the future by buying a tractor with a snowplow attachment? You could amortize the cost of the new tool over the number of years you will be on the hook for paying for somebody else's snowplow.

When all else fails, turn a problem into a tool acquisition opportunity.


Bob Weisner
05-20-2005, 12:49 AM

This MIGHT be JUST big enough to plow the old road :D

Bob Weisner
05-20-2005, 12:53 AM

Dan Mages
05-20-2005, 11:43 PM
This sounds very familiar, except the road I live on has around 70-90 homes and has not been paved in 42 years. The town doubts that they will get to it in the next 10 years. We have had the press out to look at it and write up stories, but with no luck. It is so bad that parents will not allow kids to play in the street because it is too dangerous with the cracks and holes. I have personally patched potholes in front of my driveway. The city has done some patching, but has done a piss poor job at that. Sorry to vent and steal your thread, but i can really relate!!