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County will not assume subdivision’s road

Wellers-Lane County

UPDATE Oct. 13: Council voted against taking possession of Wellers Lane.

UPDATE: The municipality would assume the road if the turnaround was upgraded at the property owners’ expense. Patterson will discuss with neighbours and learn costs to make a decision.
The matter is to come back before regular council Oct. 13.

SEPT. 22 – Council members at the committee of the whole meeting Thursday will receive a report on the possibility of assuming Weller’s Lane to provide for winter maintenance that was deferred from the Aug. 13 meeting.

Wellers Lane is part of an unassumed Ameliasburgh subdivision, orginally a plan for a 37-lot seasonal cottage area in the 70s. In 1991 an application was made to close roads and portions of roads not yet built and what remained was the built portion of Wellers Road, a few sold lots and a large block of undeveloped land that remains today. Weller’s Road became Weller’s Lane in 1995.

The 1991 court order did not remove the subdivision agreement from any of the lands and since then it has been treated as a private road to be maintained by the local lot owners using it.

A deputation was first made by Lane resident Ray Patterson last year. He is expected to return to Committee of the Whole Thursday where the commission report will be received and options are to be presented.

Patterson seeks “equal treatment” for all tax payers noting a precedent of 62 other gravel roads receiving service. Wellers .35 km of road has six homes. Patterson says the road is not the product of a failed subdivision.

“There are more than 62 gravel roads plowed by the County… a total of 89.4kms,” Patterson’s report states. “We are asking for 350 metres to be plowed on a pre-existing route via Smoke’s Point Road.”

“If standards are equally applied, why are most of the gravel roads plowed by PEC, less, and much less than the 66-foot width of Wellers Road and in poorer condition?” his report asks.

“The desire of Mr. Patterson and the other lot owners on Wellers Lane to have the County assume and take over the maintenance responsibility of this unassumed road is understandable,” said Robert McAuley, the County’s Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Works, in his report.

The County is under no obligation to assume the road until it has been upgraded to a proper standard by the persons using it.

“Should council agree with the request to assume the road ‘as is’ all responsibility and cost for upgrade, maintainance and repairs would flow to County taxpayers and it would release the lot owners from their current financial responsibility.

Wellers Lane has been inspected and is not to a suitable standard for assumption.

McAuley’s report notes staff and the County’s Solicitor believe agreeing to the request would set a poor precedent for subdivision development or other private road assumption requests. Similar requests for assumption or maintenance have been received for Lewisville Drive, a failed subdivision west of Wellington, and for Sidney Shores Lane, a road allowance conveyed to Sophiasburgh upon which a private road exists.

McAuley said the subdivision agreement between the lot owners and the County does not adequately address the circumstances at hand, but the existing few lot owners using Weller’s Lane are not well positioned to undertake the responsibilities of the agreement to complete the road for assumption without assistance.

Staff’s estimate to upgrade the lane suitable for assumption and construct a turnaround is $200,000, plus legal costs and potential appeal costs that have not been estimated. The total cost would be borne by the lot owners.

In other options listed:

Option 1:
The lot owners are individually and collectively responsible for supply of all maintenance at their costs. The County has offered to enter into a Wellers Lane Services Agreement with the lot owners to permit the County to provide limited maintenance services on a contracted cost recovery basis. This is sometimes done with other subdivision developers. Mr. Patterson does not agree with this approach.

Option 2:
Council could agree with assuming Wellers Lane “as is” in which case the following steps would need to be taken:
– Wellers Lane would require upgrade and a turnaround constructed at the end on
lands owned by the County,
– A road assumption bylaw would be required to be adopted opening and assuming the road into the County’s highway system,
– Policy RD 700 Winter Control and Policy RD 900 Minimum Maintenance Standards would be revised to assign a road classification to Wellers Lane for winter control level of service and ongoing maintenance standards,
– Local speed and traffic signage will be required to be posted, and
– The name will require changing to Wellers Road to conform to emergency numbering protocols.

A detailed cost estimate has not been prepared, however staff estimate that to upgrade Wellers Lane and construct the turnaround could cost approximately $200,000. This work would be budgeted in 2016 in order to begin proper winter maintenance.

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