Select council opposes city ownership of two roads

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MARION — A request by residents to accept Fieldstone Lane and Village Drive as city arteries was unanimously opposed on Tuesday, April 26 by the select committee, which cited several concerns about road layout and safety.

The issue comes before City Assembly voters on May 9 after residents in favor of the decision submitted an article on the City Assembly’s mandate, known as a Citizens’ Petition, asking voters to approve the responsibility of the city for the road.

City Administrator Jay McGrail recommended against the article. A major problem with the road, he said, was the “Hammerhead” layout, which includes a T-shaped dead end that serves as a U-turn.

At an earlier meeting, Public Works Director Nathaniel Munafo said the turnaround involved a dangerous fall on three sides.

The road is also much longer than the city allows for a dead end, he said.

McGrail noted the city has been in court with the developer, Steen Realty, for years over some of those issues. But the development fell under Chapter 40B, a state law that allows flexibility in municipal regulations for affordable housing.

As a result, the city was forced to waive restrictions that would otherwise be placed on building the road, he said.

Board member John Waterman said he understood why residents of the development wanted the town to accept the road, but it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the town.

In opposing the petition, McGrail spoke of the need to balance the demands of the Field Stone Road area “with the broader interests of the city”.

Members of the Finance Committee also opposed the article.

The roads were under the supervision of Steen Realty, the developer of the homes in the area, until January 1, when the responsibility was transferred to the owners’ association, made up of residents of the development.

In previous meetings, residents said many owners brought in their residences knowing the city would eventually take control of the roads.

City officials had encouraged residents at previous meetings to bring the issue to the city meeting so that residents had a chance to speak up.

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