Hanover voters reject plan to plow South Shore Road
A public hearing to close Hanover's South Shore Road to winter maintenance for up to another 10 years will take place Monday, following last week's special Town Meeting vote against plowing the road.
About 40 people turned out for the meeting.
Residents of the road, located next to Howard Pond, have been paying to have the road plowed privately. For 20 years it has been formally closed to winter maintenance by the town.
Over the past year selectmen have been researching the cost and tax implications of taking over plowing. The estimated cost, Selectman Dick Stratton told voters last week, was $5,000 to $8,000 annually.
Selectmen provided written material explaining the tax valuation adjustment made for property owners on the road: "The assessed land value (but not building value) is currently reduced by 15 percent in recognition of the reduced access without town-provided winter maintenance. If the town agrees to plow the road, the assessor recommends that we change that reduction to 5 percent. This change results in about an 11.8 percent increase in the land value, which will then be reflected in the property tax for the coming year. This adjustment for all properties increases the total land valuation to about $641,000. If we assume no change in the mil rate, this would result in $4,846 in additional property tax."
Selectmen did not make a recommendation as a board on the issue.
Speaking as an individual, Stratton favored plowing the road. "We as a town provide services," he said, "We have the library, the Town Office, the schools, the roads, a pond. "Together we agree to create a community. We provide serives for everybody. Town roads and maintenance for roads that belong to the town is an appropriate step."
He said there had been an "evolution" of development on the South Shore Road, and there isa trend toward more homes with year-round access than in the past, leading to his conclusion that the town should plow.
"I think it's time," he said.
But many were skeptical. Some who live on private roads and pay for their own plowing were either not sympathetic or said the town should also pay to plow their roads.
Others pointed out that the South Shore Road is a town road, and they said that made a difference. One South Shore Road resident added that the number of people and the total tax base on the road should be taken into account.
Joanne Hicks, who lives on a private road, countered that private road residents should get the same 15 percent value reduction as those on the South Shore Road.
Arthur Hicks speculated that the town would likely end up adding gravel to the road to make it more plowable, costing more money.
After about 45 minutes of discussion a secret ballot was taken, with 11 in favor of winter maintenance and 24 opposed.
Monday's hearing is at 6 p.m. at the Town House.