Maine Alliance for Road Associations
We have a property owner who plans to have some major equipment to work on his property. We are considering updating our by-laws to require restoration of any damage done to the road. Does anyone have such a clause in their By-laws and if so, how has it worked?
This might already be discussed in the past. Difficult to find using key words.
Our road association has a clause in our bylaws that says,
"Any damage to the road by an owner, his/her guests, or his/her contractors beyond normal wear and tear shall be the responsibility of that owner, and the cost of any repairs necessitated by such damage may be assessed against said owner by the Board of Directors."
We have used it once, after a member's guest did donuts in the road with an ATV, tearing up the new gravel. The member paid for hiring a York rake to repair the damage.
We've had a couple of cases where someone's contractor damaged the edge of the road slightly when unloading heavy equipment, and we've grumbled about it but not pursued it. We have had a couple of other similar cases where the landowner made sure the contractor repaired it before they left.
Another time, a landowner who was having his driveway paved had the contractor patch a couple of potholes just down the road from him while he was at it. I think the road association reimbursed him, since in that case the potholes were not the landowner's or his contractor's fault, but it's good to keep in mind that a contractor may be able to do a repair while he's there, saving the cost of having someone make a special trip.
We have discussed adding a clause in the bylaws requiring a bond before bringing in heavy equipment, or having a flat fee when anyone is going to do major construction, but have never followed through.
Another possibility might be to have a clause in the bylaws that allows you to post the road during mud season the way the State and municipalities post weight limits when the roads are not solidly frozen. The law they go by is Title 29-A M.R.S.A., Section 2395. Here's a link: https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/statutes/29-A/title29-Asec2395.html
While that statute does NOT give similar authority to road associations, I don't see why the Members could not vote to put something in their bylaws allowing posting. Enforcement could be a problem, since there would be no law to back it up, but it would at least serve as a reminder that the road is tender and needs to be treated with care during mud season. That option would raise some good questions for an attorney to answer.
If nothing else, you could ask your town to post the road that gives access to your road. They can't bring in heavy equipment if they can't get there. The catch is that your road would likely remain tender longer than the public road, so they could pull the posting signs before your road is ready.
Perhaps someone else has tried those options or others, and can chime in.
Our By-Laws state:
Road maintenance that is the direct result of a lot owner damaging the roadway during building construction or other extraordinary use will be the responsibility of that owner.
We also discussed this at an Annual Meeting and voted to require a bond before someone builds, however we have never had to enforce it, and quite frankly, I'm not sure we could since it's not in our By-Laws.
We have 20 lots on our road and only 7 homes have been built over the past 20+ years. (Three members own two lots each to keep the other lot forested and for privacy). So it might be an issue we will face some day in the future. However, most of the driveways have been put in by the person we contract to maintain the road and he's very careful about raking out the road after it's done.
In addition to holding owners responsible as stated in the first reply above, our by-laws have added:
"Any damage to the road by an owner, his/her guests, or his/her contractors beyond normal wear and tear shall be the responsibility of that owner, and the cost of any repairs necessitated by such damage may be assessed against said owner by the membership. In addition, owners responsible for unusual or detrimental use of the road or shore right-of-way are expected to contribute additional maintenance fees. Considering such use, the membership may also assign individual owners additional maintenance fees."
The Maine Alliance for Road Associations