The town of West Turin prevailed in a lawsuit brought by a landowner aggrieved by the town’s minimum maintenance road law. In the matter of Jerry Weikel v. Town of West Turin and Richard Failing decided by the Appellate Division Fourth Department on June 29th, the appeals court found that the plaintiff’s challenge to the law was untimely, and was brought well after the expiration of the statute of limitations. The matter does not, however, settle the general validity of the minimum maintenance road concept and this was not addressed by the appeals court. The decision can be viewed at:
The plaintiff had purchased property along the Bower Road in the Town of West Turin, obtained a certificate of occupancy for a seasonal dwelling 2008, and then requested the town to plow the road in 2014. The town had refused to plow the road, citing their minimum maintenance road law adopted in 1997 which designated the road maintenance regime as unplowed.
As the appeals court did not address the fundamental substance of the town’s minimum maintenance law, State legislative authority to enact such laws is still being sought. There are ten Tug Hill towns with minimum maintenance roads, and seven others have been awaiting adoption pending this decision. There are about 158 miles of minimum maintenance roads designated on Tug Hill, with 50 miles bordering State land on one side and 33 miles bordering State land on both sides. Bordering State land makes road upgrades for plowing problematic, especially in forest preserve counties such as Lewis and Oneida. It is estimated that the average cost of such upgrades and necessary maintenance equipment to make such roads plowable would be about $100,000 per mile.