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Road in Hartland Gets Debated

Hartland — Telecommunications executive Michel Guite wants to make a public road situated on his property private, saying the presence of people on his land daily is “somewhat disturbing.”

But the idea to make the road private isn’t going over well with Hartland residents.

Hartland Selectboard members held a public hearing last night to discuss the future of Ayers Lane, a 0.2-mile road stretching off of Town Farm Hill Road.

“There are some people in town who use this for walking and for riding bicycles,” said Hartland resident Dean Greenberg, a member of the Ancient Roads Com

mittee.

“Also, I am concerned that Ayers Lane may have, in the past, connected down to Brownsville Road and if it did and we throw this part out, then we would never be able to reclaim this to make it a passageway for snowmobiles or whatever,” Greenberg said. “I think until the Ancient Roads Committee can reach a conclusion to whether this was connected, it would be premature to make it private.”

Hartland resident Jay Boeri, who chair’s the Ancient Roads Committee, said under Vermont’s Title 19 statute, Vermont towns have until 2015 to find the records for roads, such as Ayers Lane, which exist as “travelways,” but don’t have paperwork associated with where the roads began and ended.

“The Supreme Court made a ruling that a road can be there, but it has to have a paper trail,” Boeri said.

The Ancient Roads Committee has yet to find paperwork on Ayers Lane to depict where the road originally connected to, if at all, Boeri said.

Guite, chief executive of VTel, blamed the lack of records for Ayers Lane to it not being “an old road.” Guite said he thought the road was created as recently as 1964, attributing the date to when the Ayers family property was situation off of the road.

Town Manager Bob Stacey said the town previously considered options other than making the road private, such as making it a Class 4 road instead of a Class 3; making it a pent road with a gated section; or downgrading its status to a trail.

“The issue we keep coming back to is the privacy Mr. Guite is seeking and none of the options really do that,” Stacey said.

A point of agreement among those in attendance last night was the lack of a policy on what to do with Class 3 and Class 4, as well as “stub” roads.

Boeri said the decision to make Ayers Lane private — without a policy in place — could backfire.

“(In Hartland) there are 24 stub roads just like Mr. Guite’s,” he said. “Does that mean that you will have 23 more people come and ask? Don’t act on this request until you have a policy.”

Boeri spoke of intertwining “public good” into a policy — one that would regard land use and provide a list of criteria to weigh whether or not to change a road’s status.

Selectboard Chairman Gordon Richardson admitted the town didn’t have a policy for class three and Class 4 roads, but indicated “no two roads are alike,” making a standard policy for all roads difficult.

Hartland resident Whit Mowry claimed it wouldn’t be in the public good, or the town’s best interest, to keep Ayers Lane public and said the town should take measures to make the road private.

“You people are gonna get your butts sued if you don’t throw it up … That’s his (Guite’s) history,” Mowry said, hinting at the three-year battle in Vermont Supreme Court over the removal of a cemetery on Guite’s property. “I’m in favor of throwing up the road, let Mr. Guite rest easy.”