Following a case earlier this summer, the Highway Safety Committee has determined to take no action on a request for releasing Sargent Street from public servitude.
The committee discussed a request from Michael Glejzer and Nicole Thomas, residents of 3 Holmes St., for the town to release public servitude on Sargent Street, a “paper street” between their home and their neighbors. They asked for the frontage of lot 079-001 to be released.
But according to Public Works Director Mike Fowler, it’s not that easy anymore. Fowler referred to the recent request of Steve Robichaud to release a portion of Lawrence Street from the town’s control. The Lawrence Street case revealed the fact that Lawrence Street might never have been accepted by the town, and opened the question of whether the town should be involved.
While the Town Council voted after three meetings to release public interest in the right-of-way, the case changed the way Fowler and the town look at these “paper streets.”
In his research, Fowler discovered that if a piece of property such as a right-of-way is dedicated at a certain date, under New Hampshire law a town has 20 years to accept it. “Otherwise, it reverts back to the heirs,” Fowler explained.
“And if the piece hasn’t been improved over those years, it most likely hasn’t been accepted by the town,” he added. Sargent Street, like the portion of Lawrence Street in question, was dedicated in 1902, Fowler said.
The staff position, Fowler said, is that the town not review releasing Sargent Street.
The town has had other requests for releasing paper streets, he said, and they have mostly been uncomplicated. In his nine years with Public Works, he’s seen five requests. But this one, like Lawrence Street, is different.
“There is most likely a private owner,” he said. “We are going to recommend that they do a little title work first.”
Highway Safety member Walter “Wally “ Deyo asked how many paper streets the town had, and Fowler said between 35 and 40. The street was registered under a plan by John Walker in 1902, Fowler said, and Walker’s heirs, “Whoever they are,” own the sliver of right-of-way.
The group voted unanimously to table the request.