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PEPPERELL — Three weeks before acceptance of Hadley Road as a public right of way could be voted upon at the Oct. 24 special town meeting, selectmen, who must sign off on the plan beforehand, voted contingent approval of the layout at the close of an Oct. 3 public hearing.

Signed plans must be filed with the town clerk seven days prior to town meeting. If they are not, the warrant article becomes moot and will be passed over at town meeting.

Selectmen voted to sign off on the road on two conditions: 1) That all outstanding work items, no matter how minor, are completed and verified by town engineer Robert Lee prior to Oct. 14; and 2) that the Planning Board agrees to accept a bond from developer Robert M. Hicks, of Westford, that would pay for completion of work necessitated by an outstanding order of conditions from the Conservation Commission.

Westford attorney Paul Alphen, representing Hicks, said construction has been “substantially done,” with the exception of street signs, completed plans for easements and, most importantly, an incomplete order of conditions regarding monitoring of a wet pond into which water from the road drains.

ConsCom’s order calls for monitoring over three years.

Alphen said he has asked ConsCom if it would accept a bond to guarantee the work would be done, but he was refused. As an option, he offered an identification certificate to the town and each future homeowner at closing that holds Hicks responsible to complete the work. He also offered to submit some of the bond or issue a new one.

ConsCom member James Casserly said ConsCom still has not seen movement toward a certificate of compliance and that the pond in question is in its second year of settlement phase. He said ConsCom is unlikely to issue a certificate until reports of completion of conditions have been presented to it.

He said there is nothing wrong with the Hadley Road layout. However, he said one of ConsCom’s concerns is that property owners often move ahead with changes to their land that the town might become responsible for if the order of conditions is not met.

In a letter to selectmen and the Planning Board, Lee recommended the town not be responsible for guaranteeing work will be completed properly, particularly for the drainage pond.

He wrote Hicks has known what is needed for a certificate of compliance for two years, but nothing has been reported back to the town. He wrote that work on the drainage pond did not start until two months ago and the pond had not been touched since 2000. At that time, Lee advised the pond banks not be hydroseeded because wetlands plantings were to be put in. They were hydroseeded anyway.

“This is not an issue that was sprung on the developer at the last minute,” Lee wrote.

Hadley Road residents had a number of questions.

Is placement of mailboxes on the same side of the road in the order of conditions? Would the owner of property that has a fenced-off easement be responsible for repair of the fence? Who is responsible for fixing a fence gate that blows open? Who should repair a lawn within an easement that is trampled by the town? Will the sidewalks be plowed?

Selectmen Chairman Lyndon Johnson said it had been only recommended that mailboxes be placed on the same side of the road.

Town administrator Robert Hanson said the question is what is acceptable to the post office.

“Somewhere the sidewalks were moved,” he said. “The question then is can they all be moved. The town’s position is that that is a good question for the post office.”

Highway Superintendent Peter Shattuck said the town’s mailbox policy, which does not match the government’s, is to avoid use of granite or steel posts, or buckets, to support the boxes because the supports should break away when struck by heavy, plowed snow.

Site supervisor James Gaudette said the developer could provide locks for the fence gates.

Shattuck said his policy is that if town workers damage a lawn he would repair it and no, the sidewalks would not be plowed.

“We’d work with you,” he said. “I won’t necessarily put fences back up [if they must be taken down to gain access to an easement], but we’d try to with a post and rail fence.”

Hanson said, “That extends to construction of any type [in easements], for example permanent swing sets.

“Be careful of what you put in the grass,” he added.

Johnson said it is not the town’s responsibility to monitor what is in easements. He said Lee has requested all residents who have easements be notified that access to them must not be impeded.

Selectman Darrell Gilmore moved to take testimony under advisement but changed to a conditional acceptance of Hadley Road after Hanson explained the Planning Board, as the only town body that can accept a developer’s bond, must agree to accept one.

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