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Town defers acceptance of
private roads in Pembrook

Chris Patterson
The Gazette

As winter approaches, some residents of Pembrook Woods in Emmitsburg asked the Town of Emmitsburg this week to assume responsibility for plowing the community's roads.

The roads are currently owned and maintained by developer Buckeye Development as private roads.

Once the town accepts the roads, all maintenance ­including snow plowing ­ will become the responsibility of the town.

Emmitsburg officials decided to leave the roads in the hands of the developer at least until a full inspection could be made by a licensed engineer.

Town planner Mike Lucas said that though he is not an engineer, the roads in sections two and three of the development located at the west end of town, appeared to be satisfactory, but the roads in section one have had troubles.

Each time problems were reported, Buckeye Development ­ which still has control and responsibility for the roads - came to repair them, he said.

A few Emmitsburg residents, including town Commission President Bill O'Neil, said they thought the Town of Emmitsburg should plow the roads regardless of whether they had been accepted by the town. Lucas said the town has been advised by its attorney not to do so until after the roads have been legally accepted.

In an Oct. 28 letter to Lucas, town attorney John Clapp of Clapp and Carper LLC in Frederick, wrote that issuing traffic or parking citations on the roads could be considered acceptance of the dedication of the roads to the town.

Lucas said that same principle might also apply if the town undertakes any responsibility to maintain the roads, such as plowing.

Town manager Dave Haller was also concerned that any damage done to the roads by plowing would make the town liable for repairs.

Pembrook Woods resident and Planning Commission Chair Chris Staiger said he believed the staff's decision not to plow the streets was a "bogus excuse," particularly because the town plowed the roads two years ago.

Haller said that case was an extreme situation. If another emergency arose, he said, he would likely plow the roads again. He did not think a decision to plow the roads regularly was within his authority, however.

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