Town leaders accept new Mt. Morris road

by Dan McClelland
With the blessing of Highway Superintendent Bill Dechene, town officials at a special meeting March 19 accepted a new road recently completed by developer Nick Brunette.  
The road offer was first presented to the town board at its regular meeting on March 8 by Attorney Kirk Gagnier, but without the highway superintendent in attendance, officials were cautious to proceed. Mr. Dechene had been out plowing with his crew all night the night before.
By town law it is up to a town highway superintendent to accept any new roads.  Under town law too, any accepted road must meet town road-building standards, which include among other things adequate drainage and certain depths of gravel.
Road work by Mr. Brunette apparently started five years ago, according to comments that evening.
The 1,300 foot long road, 50 feet wide, is situated behind No. 1 fairway and near the No. 2 tee area at the Tupper Lake Golf Course.  It leaves Tamarac Drive at a point between property owned by Peter Kinzel and another owned by his neighbors, Richard and Ellen Smith.
Mr. Brunette's new road will open up a 23-acre piece of property he owns there for development with seven new lots. The new road, which shaves a piece of the corner of a third lot owned by George Ross, ends at a section of acreage owned by Jim and Rickey Dattola.
At the earlier meeting Attorney Gagnier said Mr. Dechene has been inspecting Mr. Brunette's work since it began five years ago, and last Monday the highway chief confirmed that.
At the second meeting, the attorney said Mr. Brunette's subdivision won approval from the planning board, following soil tests and other development requirements.
The road butts up to property owned by Rickey and Jim Dattola, which brought the comment from Supervisor Patti Littlefield that should they ever want to develop that parcel, the access road is now there.
Mr. Dechene said Nick's new road meets all the town's current specifications for acceptance.
It was noted in the discussion, however, that Mr. Gagnier, who is also the town attorney and Mr. Dechene have been talking of late about updating the town's road acceptance policy.  Board members have also apparently been talking about.
Referring to any new specifications, the supervisor speculated the board may want to require developers to install a binder coat or asphalt surface on any road offered to the town in the future.
She said Mr. Dechene is currently working up cost estimates for future developers to apply at least the binder coat on any new road offered.
Councilman John Quinn offered the resolution to accept the new road with the initial acceptance of the highway chief.
“I'll move it,” he told his colleagues Mrs. Littlefield and Councilwoman Mary Fontana, “but I want to ask Bill, you've been involved...does it meet our specifications?”
Mr. Dechene said it did.
“So I'll go with his recommendation, because he's the man!” stated Mr. Quinn.
The motion won all three votes at the table.
Absent that Monday afternoon at 3p.m. at the special meeting were board members Mike Dechene and Tracy Luton.
As the discussion moved to the topic of a new committee to study town road specifications and acceptance policies, Mr. Gagnier wondered if the board wanted him to ask Mr. Brunette to serve, since he has been just through the process.
Supervisor Littlefield said that while he could be asked to serve on the new group, it might be easier just to have the committee interview him about the experience.  Other developers here may also be asked to meet with the study group.
John Quinn offered to serve on the new committee, and suggested Planner Paul O'Leary, Mr. Dechene and the attorney also be asked serve as well.  A motion later in the discussion appointed those four to the committee, with a completion date of two months from now eyed.
He said there were a number of things he'd like to see in any new road specifications developed, including, among other things a paved surface and engineering plan.
“Our specifications aren't bad...we just need to improve upon them,” the councilman noted.
Mr. Gagnier said the planning board members should also be involved in the creation of any new town road specs as those requirements are found in the town's subdivision regulations.
“We always want the planners to make sure any developer is keeping their eye on the road specifications!”
In the deliberations of the planning board he said there may be times when a small subdivision doesn't need to be served by a town road and a private road will do.  A waiver from the planners can make that happen, he added.
The supervisor suggested contacting officials in nearby towns where road acceptance specifications have been recently updated, to review those policies.
Bill Dechene noted that there should be a provision in any new set of road rules, calling for acceptance by the town to only occur between May and October- as unusual things can happen to roads in the winter and spring months.
He added that Mr. Brunette's new road had been completed and inspected by him in September.  “He completed everything I asked him to!”
He said turnarounds should also be required at the end of all future town roads, as it is often difficult for town snowplows and other large vehicles to safely turn around.  Mr. Dechene gave as an example a recent mishap where a school bus got stuck in Walter Zurawski's yard at the end of River Road, when it tried to turn around.
“Most times we have to use private driveways to turn around, and there's always the chance someone might shut us out!”
“I look forward to the construction of new homes in Mr. Brunette's subdivision,” was the supervisor's comment that afternoon on the issue.