Minimum Maintenance Road Designation

“Minimum maintenance roads” are a particular type of low-volume road and must be created through a special designation procedure. Two categories of low-volume roads, agricultural land access and recreational land access roads, may be designated minimum maintenance. These roads must be maintained according to the standards deemed appropriate and as adopted by the town board. The road is not abandoned, and still remains in all respects.

There is a special procedure for designating minimum maintenance roads that is more complex than the simple procedure used to designate a low-volume road by local law. The minimum maintenance procedure is as follows:

1) the highway superintendent presents recommended findings and a minimum maintenance road map (example map) to the town board,

2) the town board prepares findings and issues them to the school district, to the town planning board and the general public for comment,

3) the town board notifies adjacent property owners by certified mail,

4) the town board holds a public hearing,

5) the town board accepts in part or rejects recommendations of the school board or planning board prior to their vote,

6) the town board adopts minimum maintenance roads designation local law and files the adopted local law with the NYS Department of State,

7) the designation is effective upon the posting of signs, and the adoption of maintenance standards.

How will a minimum maintenance road be maintained?

Each town must specify what types of maintenance activities will be conducted prior to the designation taking effect. These activities will be based on the minimum that is necessary to keep the road in service, consistent with its classification. In some circumstances it may mean reducing or eliminating snow removal. This is particularly important for protecting roads used as winter recreation trails.

Isn’t designation just a step towards abandonment?

No. Minimum maintenance road designation is not just a step towards abandonment. In fact, a road may not be abandoned until six years have elapsed following the termination of minimum maintenance designation in addition to complying with all statutory abandonment criteria. Designation is seen as a cost-effective alternative to abandonment.

Is “minimum maintenance” designation permanent?

Not necessarily. The town board may terminate designation at any time upon amending the local law if such a change is in the public interest. Also, any landowner abutting the road may petition the town for removal, and the town board must hold a public hearing on the petition within 45 days of receipt of the petition.

What is the difference between “minimum maintenance” road designation and “seasonal use” designation?

“Seasonal use” is an annual designation by the town board to limit snow plowing, and such roads must be plowed upon the request of anyone living or operating a business on the road, even if they have located on the road following designation. “Minimum maintenance” standards which have been adopted by the town, and which may include limitations on snow plowing, will be continued until such time as the town board deems that maintenance standards should be changed.

How will minimum maintenance road designation affect my assessment?

In most cases, designation will have no effect. Lands have been assessed based upon the existing condition of the road, which in most cases will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Should minimum maintenance roads be improved, then assessments may be increased.