The Town needs a mechanism (ordinance) to address the access rights of these town plowed private ways by municipal vehicles during winter months, the responsibility of landowners to perform annual/summer maintenance during the year, storm water management drainage issues, the insurability of municipal vehicles on Town plowed private ways and the lack of local road associations to address private way needs. Current law does not provide a mechanism for addressing any of the above issues or unforeseen future challenges. In 1989 the Maine Supreme Court issued an “Opinion of the Justices” stating that it would be unconstitutional for a town to use town funds for the private purpose of maintaining a private way. Many towns throughout the state of Maine stopped when that occurred. Windham attempted to address these problems through agreements with property owners, but that practice was not effective Simply put, the Town cannot legally continue to plow private ways unless the owners of those ways have given the Town the right to do so through grant of a public easement.
As you read through this Q & A, for the sake of clarity, all references “Private Ways” refer to private ways currently plowed by the town, as identified on the list of 101 roads.