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Another vote on Pelletier Avenue looming

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — With another Pelletier Avenue vote looming on the horizon next week, town officials continue to work with Calvin Ouellette and the Ouellette family on the implementation of an agreement reached through mediation in June regarding the ownership of a portion of the road.

A roughly one-mile long section of the dirt road has been at the center of controversy for more than a year regarding its designation as a private or public road.

Residents have an opportunity to vote on Nov. 14 to determine whether or not to allow the town to spend money on maintaining a portion of the road which the Ouellette’s claim is a private travelway on their property and not a town road.

None of the Ouellettes, who have farmland abuting the road, live on Pelletier Avenue, although three other familie do.

While town officials have confirmed that a settlement agreement was reached in June, details have not been released while lawyers for the parties work to complete the deal. Town Manager Ryan E. Pelletier confirmed Tuesday that the parties are scheduled to meet again for another status conference in Caribou Superior Court on Nov. 28.

Monday and Tuesday, work was completed on two of the three items stipulated in the agreement between the Ouellettes and the town, according to Pelletier. This includes some ditching and culvert work around access points from the road to the farmland, he said.

Selecten have said that they cannot do any maintenance work on the road itself because the town has no clear deed to the land. The Ouellettes have said they will transfer ownership to the town once the agreement has been fully implemented.

However, residents voted in June to stop all further expenditure of town funds on the section of road in question. That result, however, was later voided by the court, due to a voting procedure irregularity. That is why the matter is once more being brought before voters on Nov. 14.

If voters still refuse on Nov. 14 to allow town money to be spent on the road, selectmen will have to once again evaluate their options.

Some residents expressed frustrations at the entire situation during an Oct. 19 public hearing ahead of the vote. Questions were raised about winter plowing, school bus and emergency response access, and whether abandoning the road would result in the town owing any damages to the three homeowners living on Pelletier Avenue.

That hearing resulted in a list of a dozen questions, which Pelletier said were given to the selectmen at their Oct. 26 meeting.

Pelletier said Tuesday that the special town meeting on Nov. 14 will include a public comment period prior to voting on the Pelletier Avenue maintenence article. It is likely selectmen will address the questions brought up at the October hearing during the public comment period next week, Pelletier added.

The special town meeting to vote on the issue will start at 7 p.m. at the Community Center on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

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