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Francestown

Cressy Hill Road status unclear road

Petitioners want no town money spent

FRANCESTOWN — As discussed at several Select Board meetings, it’s unclear whether Cressy Hill Road is a Class V road, with the town responsible for maintenance, or a Class VI road, where residents of the road pay for maintenance.

Although town documents show Cressy as a Class VI road, N.H. Department of Transportation documents classify part of the road as Class V and another part as Class VI.

Now, some residents have submitted a petition article, which will go before voters at Town Meeting, asking them to vote to require that no municipal or other public funds may be spent by the town on engineering studies, maintenance, repairs or replacement of Cressy Hill Road and any bridges located thereon.

The only bridge on the road crosses Rand Brook on the northern end of Cressy Hill Road, near Russell Station Road. This bridge is located on a Class V section of Cressy Hill Road, according to Lisa Chamberlain of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. She was not sure when this section of the road was determined to be Class V.

BJ Carbee of Francestown, one of the 46 residents who signed the petition article, said in an interview Monday that some suspect that the town wrote grant applications to the state that classified the bridge on Cressy as a Class V road so that the town could obtain financial assistance for bridge repairs, Carbee said the purpose of the petition article is to acknowledge and enforce the provisions of an agreement and release document between the town and the only resident on Cressy Hill Road, current Select Board Chair Betsy Hardwick.

Lisa Borbeau of Francestown, another signer of the petition, said Monday that state law prohibits someone from building on a Class VI road unless an agreement and release is written freeing the town of the responsibility of maintaining the road.

One document Borbeau obtained from the town was the agreement Hardwick made with the town in July of 1997. The document, which Hardwick signed July 30, 1997, reads that Hardwick and her contractors are responsible for bridge repairs, subject to town approval. Nowhere has Borbeau found a document explaining any changes to the classification of Cressy Hill Road since 1997.

“This is really bad,” Borbeau said. “There was never any discussion of money being spent on maintenance on Cressy Hill Road in town reports over the years.”

Borbeau said she has obtained audio recordings from Select Board meetings from the last year where Hardwick allegedly stated that the town has always maintained the bridge and the town’s road agent told her that the town would take care of it.

Hardwick did not return messages seeking comment by press time on Monday.

The bridge on Cressy Hill Road over Rand Brook is currently on the state’s red list of bridge requiring maintenance, Planning Board Chair Linda Kunhardt said in an interview Monday. Placement on this list does not necessarily mean there is immediate attention required, she said, and . the bridge is not on the list for state’s Bridge Aid.

Kunhardt could not confirm if part of Cressy Hill Road is Class V or not. She said the Cressy Hill Road discussion has shown her that the town needs to have answers readily available. She said the town does not have a folder with information pertaining to town bridges.

“What has come about is that Francestown could go further with its record-taking,” Kunhardt said.

A town document dated April 24, 1989, provided by Borbeau, reads that Cressy Hill Road is a Class VI due to the lack of town maintenance on this road. This document is signed by the three members of the Select Board at the time. indicates that the Francestown Select Board voted and signed this document which

Borbeau also provided a letter sent from the N.H. Department of Transportation to the town dated July 15, 1994. It reads that two bridges in town at the time were not properly posted with weight limit signs. One of the two bridges in question was the bridge on Lyndeborough Mountain Road, the former name of Cressy Hill Road. Another letter from the DOT to the town, dated July 27, 1994, it reads that the bridge on Lyndeborough Mountain Road is classified as a Class VI road.

Borbeau has written a letter to the Planning Board explaining her concerns surrounding this issue. A Planning Board meeting to discuss Borbeau’s letter is scheduled for March 4, Kunhardt said.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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