WATERBORO — In a town meeting in 1971, Waterboro voters agreed to accept a couple of roads as town roads. One of them was Grist Mill Road, which is now called Holmes Road.

But while the road was accepted by voters, as attested to by then Town Clerk Harry A. Smith in handwritten minutes of the Sept. 25, 1971, town meeting, rights of way and accompanying work were never completed.

It’s an oversight the town is now trying to correct.

Smith’s minutes put it this way:

“Voted to accept said roads per article warrant, and from, this day on, said roads to be, and known, as Town Roads and to be accepted and cared for in the future.”

“The town voted, but the road was never laid out,” said selectman board Chairman Dennis Abbott. “Now, many moons later, we ought to right the wrong.”

Holmes Road runs from Main Street (Route 202) to Goodwin’s Mills Road in south Waterboro. Its name was changed from Grist Mill Road in a special town meeting in November 1996, one of many road and street name changes made at the time.

The discovery that the road had never properly been laid out was made as Public Works Director Doug Foglio was looking to alleviate a nearly 90-degree turn and make it easier to plow snow on the road so it doesn’t push up against nearby buildings. Right now, that can’t be avoided, said Town Administrator Gary Lamb.

In addition, a homeowner on Holmes Road who was rebuilding after a fire at his home had questions about the road.

Foglio noted that in at least one case, the pavement starts about two feet from a home.

Foglio and Charlie Brown of Sebago Technics spoke to the selectmen’s board Tuesday evening to lay out what they’d learned from research, and to seek a way forward.

“The town accepted the road but never got deeds to it,” said Foglio. “It was accepted at town meeting, and then it died.”

Brown said research on properties located along Holmes Road at the York County Registry of Deeds show some deeds reference a road going through the property, some make no reference to a right-of-way, and some refer to a center line.

Further research showed a road bed there in 1965, said Brown, and Foglio said he knows it has been plowed by the town since at least the late 1950s.

“We should send registered letters to (property owners) and hold a public meeting, tell them we have an issue and we have to address it,” Foglio advised.

He said as the road stands now, due to the close proximity of houses and parking issues, road crews are sometimes plowing within inches of cars.

Selectman Gordon Littlefield said the matter had to be addressed “one way or another,” but advised seeking the advice of the town attorney.

Selectman Jon Gale responded that people can be flexible, but sometimes, when a lawyer is brought into the mix, “it can tighten people up.”

“It would be nice to have an outline of what the town may or may not have for rights,” said Abbott, suggesting the town get a legal position but not “throw the legal piece to the landowners.”

Gale said the town needs to figure out what is needed for a properly laid-out road, and if property owners will give a little land to make that happen.

Selectmen agreed on seeking a legal position on the matter from the town attorney and then to meet with landowners.

Brown cautioned that the town may not be able to have a 50-foot-wide road there, but said a 33-foot road might be possible.

Abbott said landowners shouldn’t be penalized. “We’ll end up with whatever we get,” he said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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