Friday, December 30, 2011

Practicable Access

The term “practicable access” as it relates to ANR plans was further defined within the December 14, 2011 Appeals Court decision of Houle v. Planning Board of Plainville 81 Mass. App. Ct 1104 (2011). The Plainville Planning Board had denied ANR endorsement notwithstanding that the land had frontage on a poorly maintained public way and notwithstanding that the municipality had a duty to maintain the public way (see Sturdy v. Planning Board of Hingham, 32 Mass.App. Ct 72, 76 (1992)). The Court found that portions of the road were passable only by four wheel drive vehicles or vehicles with oversized tires after a storm. The Court further found that emergency vehicles were not so equipped, and concluded that “there is no practicable means of access for emergency vehicles” to the lots shown on the ANR plan.  The Court concluded that the inadequacies of the roadway were beyond the type of deficiencies present in the Sturdy case (where the road was “close to impassable at very wet portions of the year), and ANR endorsement could properly be withheld. Next time, make sure the Town grades the road before submitting an ANR plan (or have a neighbor like ours on the Cape who grades the road himself a few times a year).

PAUL F. ALPHEN, ESQUIRE
BALAS, ALPHEN & SANTOS, P.C.
paul@lawbas.com http://www.lawbas.com/

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