Town finalizes list of private roads to plow — almost

FILE PHOTO | Plow trucks at the Osborn Avenue highway department yard.
FILE PHOTO | Plow trucks at the Osborn Avenue highway department yard.

The Riverhead Town Board has just about finalized its list of which private roads will and won’t receive snow plowing and cold patch services when it snows.

The board discussed the issue with Highway Superintendent George Woodson and, with the exception of a few roads they still have questions on, made a decision on an issue it’s been putting off deciding since last fall.

The highway super sent out a letter to residents on private roads last October, saying he would no longer plow roads that are not public property. He said residents had threatened litigation against the town for allegedly damaging the roads — which, per state law, Mr. Woodson said the town shouldn’t have been plowing anyways.

Despite this, the town has plowed a number of private roads for many years, and Supervisor Sean Walter took the position that there are ways to justify continuing the practice on some roads, so long as it can be documented that those roads had been plowed for at least 10 years.

The board eventually came up with a plan, based on an upstate law, to allow only snow plowing and cold patch on private roads that had received these services for at least 10 years in the past, and in return, the residents on those roads would have remove any “private road” or “no trespassing” signs and the roads would be open to the public.

Normally, the town would require private roads to be brought up to town road specifications for specifications such as width and thickness of the pavement, in order to be taken into the town road system, at which point they would receive all town highway services, including paving and resurfacing.

But the system proposed by the town in this case only applies to plowing and cold patch and doesn’t require the roads to be brought up to town specification.

At a public hearing in December in which the town listed 49 private roads it had plowed for at least 10 years in the past, some private road residents were furious that the town would consider discontinuing snow plowing on their streets, saying it’s a safety issue. But others asked the town not to include their streets, saying they’d rather keep the roads private.

The town still retains the ability to plow private roads if a snow emergency is declared, but Mr. Woodson said those roads would get plowed last, and only in the daytime. He said at nighttime, it’s difficult to tell roads from driveways on some of the private roads.

After the December hearing, the board then had to decide which roads to plow, and which not to plow.

That decision was what was made informally Thursday, and will be finalized by a resolution at a future meeting.

The roads that will receive snow plowing and cold patching are as follows:

• Bayberry Lane, Jamesport

• Beach Club Lane, Wading River

• Bell Avenue, Aquebogue

• Benjamin Street, Wading River

• Breezy Point Road, Wading River

• Caroline Court, Aquebogue

• Deloris Avenue,  Riverhead

• East Lane, Wading River

• Emmetts Lane, Wading River

• Hobson Drive,  Aquebogue

• Laurel Hollow Court, Wading River

• Laurel Lane, Wading River

• Oak Drive, Baiting Hollow

• Oak Lane, Wading River

• Red Fox Path, Wading River

• Redleaf Court, Riverhead

• Scallop Lane, Jamesport

• Seaman Road, Jamesport

• Shady Lane, Wading River

• Telephone Street, Riverhead

• Wema Road, Wading River

• Wesley Ave, Jamesport

• White Birch Court, Jamesport

• Woodchuck Path, Wading River

• Zion Street, Aquebouge

The board still has not made a decision on Fern Road in Baiting Hollow, Meadow Drive in Baiting Hollow, Summit Drive in Baiting Hollow, and Sunrise Avenue in Jamesport. All other private roads will not be included.

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