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Board Mulls Private Road In Hartland

VTel President Argues to Cease Public Access to Lane on Land

Hartland —Last night’s second and final hearing about axing a 0.2-mile public road located off VTel President and CEO Michel Guite’s Hartland property attracted far fewer individuals than previous meetings.

But the concerns aired were nonetheless echoed those made during the first hearing last November.

Three of the four Hartland residents present, who also attended the previous hearing, reiterated their concerns about converting the now public Ayers Lane into a private road.

“If you give up this road now, you are giving up access,” said resident Elaine Brousseau. “I hope you consider the very distant future. The future generation beyond us will be living in an entirely different situation than what we’re living in now and access could be extremely important to them.”

Resident Gary Trachier said that the community’s general welfare should be taken into consideration when the Selectboard makes its final decision.

“The board needs to determine what’s in the public good,” Trachier said.

Selectboard Chairman Gordon Richardson said the “public good” issue has been debated and although it’s “very hard to answer,” many questions will be weighed, such as, “ ‘Why would the town want that road?’ ‘What will it do for the town?’ ‘What will it do for the owner?’ (and) we have to consider both sides of the questions,” he said.

Selectboard members moved to speed up the process last month when they motioned to discontinue public use of Ayers Lane. The board will now issue a report about their decision within the next 60 days.

Guite was present for yesterday’s site visit and hearing. He repeated that privacy was a main concern with the road, which leads only to his property.

“(There are) many different ways people think of privacy,” Guite said, further explaining there is a difference between mere visitors on his property and “someone saying I have a right to be here and I plan to be here.”

Guite said another reason he is pursing private status is because Ayers Lane enters the middle of a farming field that he’s reviving.

As a possible resolution with those opposed to taking the road private, Guite said that in another field on his property, “we could build a 1,000 foot road. People who like access can have access to that road instead of this road,” he said. Guite did not provide additional details about the proposed road.

Resident Bob Bibby, who opposes the decision to make Ayers Lane private, said regardless, the process for road discontinuances needs to be formalized.

“(I ask) all these roads be treated according to the same yard stick. I know it’s case by case, but the criteria by which you judge should be established,” Bibby said.

David Fuller, a Weathersfield Selectboard member who’s worked on Guite’s property for four years, said privatizing the road is the best option to reap the changes Guite’s seeking.

“In my opinion people can’t figure out what to do when the road ends,” Fuller said of the dead end. “To me there is a definite security issue.”

Fuller said he has called the police three times over the past three years for vandalism to the property.

Selectboard Chairman Richardson said last night all other options, such as granting the road trail status, or changing it’s class, are off the table.

“It’s either a yes or a no,” he said, in regards to changing the road’s status from public to private. “Mr. Guite is not asking us to make it a trail or a Class 4 road, that doesn’t answer his request.”

Selectboard member Thomas White said he supports turning it private, claiming “it just makes sense.”

“He (Guite) owns both sides (of the road),” White said. “I’ll tell you, if I owned that piece of property I’d sure as hell want that road.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be contacted at jcuddemi@gmail.com.