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Author Topic: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?  (Read 5542 times)

lio45

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How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« on: July 16, 2013, 02:42:20 pm »

I'm taking a serious look at various timber lots in Coos county these days, and several of them are only accessible through Class 6 roads.

I have a couple questions for which I haven't managed to locate the answers online... you guys might be able to answer them, hopefully...

1) Is a Class 6 road guaranteed to be eternal? (That is, is there a registered / permanent right of passage on each and every private land that this road crosses on its way from the public road to my potential property?)

(I'm guessing the answer is yes...)

2) Are there collective maintenance fees for that road?

(I'm guessing the answer is no... my guess is that anyone is free to upgrade their segment, or neglect it, and that anyone's free to upgrade the other lot owners' road segments as well if they wish to do so.)



Actually if the above guesses are correct, that would be a very Free-State-esque way of looking at road maintenance... If it suits you the way it is, you're not forced to inject a penny in it; and if you prefer it another way, you're free to work at it!


Thanks in advance for the answers!

BTW... anyone knows the average prices per acre for woodland in the middle of nowhere in Coos county? Seems really really cheap to me compared to the prices on our side of the border.



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MaineShark

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 03:27:27 pm »

Nothing is ever guaranteed to be eternal, when there's a government around to interfere!  But generally speaking, even driveway easements and such are "eternal" - which also means that it's important to consider carefully before granting someone access across your property, because they can end up having a permanent privilege to use that crossing.

Maintenance for collectively-owned roads varies.  For example, I was just (literally, a few minutes ago) reading a deed where land had been subdivided and a shared driveway created.  The deed states that:
"The owners of Lots 1 and 2 as shows in [the subdivision plan] shall share the costs of construction, maintenance and repair of said common driveway on a pro rata basis determined by the actual linera foot percentage of the driveway used by both owners."

So, that spells out how the costs are shared.  It's usually a good idea to have some sort of written agreement in place to define who is responsible for what, and in which amount.
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lio45

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 04:25:03 pm »

Thanks for the answer.

I'm very familiar with the fact that maintenance costs are normally shared... for something like a driveway, in residential/commercial real estate.

But that's a logging road that is miles long and crosses countless different timber lots. It's all but guaranteed that those 50+ different owners (several likely out of state, some of them likely logging companies) don't even know each other... they're likely far from talking to each other, let alone planning / spending on collective road maintenance.

I have a hard time imagining that there's some sort of condo owners-style association board for all those timberland owners in the middle of nowhere that has road work done then sends everyone a yearly road upkeep bill... but I'm not sure, and that was actually the question I was asking at this point.

I guess I'll have a definitive answer anyway later in the process (I'll have the opportunity to ask the seller about it eventually).

Thanks again for the info! :)







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MaineShark

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 04:48:15 pm »

My point was basically to check the deed.  It may be spelled out, there.  In which case, they don't really need to talk and negotiate, because it's already part of the deed, in perpetuity.
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John Edward Mercier

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2013, 06:25:04 pm »

If its Class VI, then it would be perpetuity. The municipality/county would need to divest itself of the easement; and that generally doesn't happen without all parties agreeing to such.

The reason is that the municipality/county is not maintaining the access; so it doesn't cost them anything.

It could have other problems depending on the usage of the property to be accessed.
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KBCraig

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 07:48:54 pm »

Class VI roads can be beneficial to the town: "We own it and control it, but don't have to pay for it."

Class VI roads can be beneficial to the property owner: "We can maintain it or not, and have no liability for it because it belongs to the town."
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Fishercat

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 10:47:36 pm »

Have you looked at this?

http://www.nh.gov/oep/resourcelibrary/referencelibrary/c/classviroads/documents/chnrpcfactsheet.pdf

Additional comments.  Some towns limit all development of Class VI-only property despite the allowance of "evidence that notice of the limits of municipal responsibility and liability has been recorded in the County registry of deeds."   I have heard (although without references) that lawsuits have been successfully brought against towns for failing to provide emergency services and other safety infrastructure despite the fact that the original property developer was aware of the lack of services.   Like I said, I don't know the details, but it seems the current thinking in among many municipal law types is that either Class VI roads are brought up to town specs and maintained, or no development.

Towns vary, so be careful.   One reason that acreage on a Class VI is so cheap is that it could be, practically speaking, undevelopable.

Note also this document references the procedure for a town to completely abandon a Class VI road.  I don't believe this could be done in a way that would "land lock" a property, but roads can be moved and the town does not have an obligation to preserve the subdividabilty of the land.   That is, if properties have frontage on two Class VI roads, a town could probably abandon one of them.
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lio45

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2013, 09:22:49 am »

My point was basically to check the deed.  It may be spelled out, there.  In which case, they don't really need to talk and negotiate, because it's already part of the deed, in perpetuity.

Sure, good point. The copy of the deed that I have does not say anything about a deeded access... I had assumed that the reason for it was that a Class VI road had still enough of an official status that it did not need to be specified. (While here, roads are either public or private, and if they're private, there will have to be a deeded access... nothing exists in between.)

That road isn't a private road, it's just a special class of public road that's not maintained and used at your own risk. So the deed does not need to mention anything about the perennity of that access road.

Still, I thought it would be a good idea to make sure those guesses weren't wrong... and thanks for the answers to all!





If its Class VI, then it would be perpetuity. The municipality/county would need to divest itself of the easement; and that generally doesn't happen without all parties agreeing to such.

The reason is that the municipality/county is not maintaining the access; so it doesn't cost them anything.

It could have other problems depending on the usage of the property to be accessed.

Class VI roads can be beneficial to the town: "We own it and control it, but don't have to pay for it."

Class VI roads can be beneficial to the property owner: "We can maintain it or not, and have no liability for it because it belongs to the town."


Good to hear! That's basically how I thought it worked...



Have you looked at this?

http://www.nh.gov/oep/resourcelibrary/referencelibrary/c/classviroads/documents/chnrpcfactsheet.pdf

Additional comments.  Some towns limit all development of Class VI-only property despite the allowance of "evidence that notice of the limits of municipal responsibility and liability has been recorded in the County registry of deeds."   I have heard (although without references) that lawsuits have been successfully brought against towns for failing to provide emergency services and other safety infrastructure despite the fact that the original property developer was aware of the lack of services.   Like I said, I don't know the details, but it seems the current thinking in among many municipal law types is that either Class VI roads are brought up to town specs and maintained, or no development.

Towns vary, so be careful.   One reason that acreage on a Class VI is so cheap is that it could be, practically speaking, undevelopable.

Note also this document references the procedure for a town to completely abandon a Class VI road.  I don't believe this could be done in a way that would "land lock" a property, but roads can be moved and the town does not have an obligation to preserve the subdividabilty of the land.   That is, if properties have frontage on two Class VI roads, a town could probably abandon one of them.

Thanks a lot for that link!

The lots I'm looking at aren't anything that should ever be developed anyway... and they're priced as such. Totally in the middle of nowhere. What's important to me is to make sure there's an eternal access (as long as it's suitable for a 4x4 pickup and/or logging machinery...)

You're absolutely right that the same lots teleported to a location with public road frontage would gain in value significantly, but as a long term investment for timber purposes, I'd rather just have more acres for the same money.

Plus I and my gf are outdoors people and as an out-of-country FSP intender I think having a spot to camp in the state would be a decent start... the prices are equally incredibly cheap in northern VT, but I'm only looking at NH for that reason.





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John Edward Mercier

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2013, 04:07:06 pm »

You would have the right to the timber even without the access.
I would need to review the RSAs to determine which one spells it out, but access for timbering of a landlocked piece of property grants a short term easement.
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John Edward Mercier

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2013, 04:23:24 pm »

Rights-of-Way for Removal of Lumber (RSA 231:40-42)
Occasionally, it becomes necessary to obtain a right-of-way through the land of another to access lumber, wood, or other material. If a right-of way location has not been agreed on by the owners, the selectman may designate a right-of-way.
After notifying the owner of the lands on which the right-of-way will pass, the selectmen shall determine the necessity for and damages caused by the right-of-way before it is open for use.
Any person aggrieved by the action has the right to appeal. Selectmen:
• may set the time and conditions under which the right of way may be used.
• may order the right-of-way closed or discontinued when, in their judgment, it is necessary.
• shall set a time for examining the premises and hearing parties in interest and give 12 days notice to one or more of the petitioners and to the persons owning or having an interest in lands through which the right-of-way will be laid out, altered, or discontinued.
• shall also give notice when a right-of-way is altered or discontinued.
• shall indicate when they will consider claims for damage.
• shall publish a notice in a local newspaper not less than 10 days before the time set for the hearing.
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KBCraig

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2013, 07:56:26 pm »

My town's subdivision regulations:

7.09 Class VI Roads
Subdivision on Class VI roads is generally discouraged. The purpose of this section is to allow conditional Planning Board approval of subdivisions located on Class VI roads. Any such approval should only be given by the Board when the denial would cause unnecessary hardship, i.e if the use of the particular property would be unduly restricted because of special conditions unique to that property. Additional conditions may be added by the Planning Board as it deems necessary. A true copy of the following conditions shall be placed on the approved plat for all such subdivisions:

“The Planning Board hereby approves this subdivision subject to the following conditions:

a. Approval of this subdivision in no way constitutes an approval of any portion of the Class VI roadway as a Class V roadway, nor does it obligate the Town to maintain any portion of the Class VI roadway, including snowplowing, nor does the Town assume liability for any damages resulting from the use of said road(s).

b. Prior to the issuance of a building permit, it may be necessary for the road, or a portion thereof, to be reconstructed to Town specifications. Any expense therefore shall be the responsibility of the subdivider or any successor(s) in title for said lot(s).

c. It shall be the duty of every seller of this land to so inform potential buyer of any lot of these restrictions prior to the buyer making any binding commitment to purchase said lot.

d. Any conditions imposed by the Planning Board as a part of subdivision approval shall be made a covenant of the deed(s) conveying all or any part of said subdivision and shall run with the land.”

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lio45

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Re: How exactly do Class 6 roads work?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2013, 09:15:46 pm »

Rights-of-Way for Removal of Lumber (RSA 231:40-42)
Occasionally, it becomes necessary to obtain a right-of-way through the land of another to access lumber, wood, or other material. If a right-of way location has not been agreed on by the owners, the selectman may designate a right-of-way.
After notifying the owner of the lands on which the right-of-way will pass, the selectmen shall determine the necessity for and damages caused by the right-of-way before it is open for use.
Any person aggrieved by the action has the right to appeal. Selectmen:
• may set the time and conditions under which the right of way may be used.
• may order the right-of-way closed or discontinued when, in their judgment, it is necessary.
• shall set a time for examining the premises and hearing parties in interest and give 12 days notice to one or more of the petitioners and to the persons owning or having an interest in lands through which the right-of-way will be laid out, altered, or discontinued.
• shall also give notice when a right-of-way is altered or discontinued.
• shall indicate when they will consider claims for damage.
• shall publish a notice in a local newspaper not less than 10 days before the time set for the hearing.

Interesting! Thanks!

The lots I'm looking at at the moment... the most interesting one IMO is accessible by a Class VI road that passes through it; but there's also a completely landlocked one with no deeded access (which bugged me a bit until I saw your post about logging right-of-ways...) and one that's on a public road, is potentially subdivisible, and includes a deeded access to Lake Francis which is pretty much right on the other side of the road. Last one is obviously a bit more $/acre than the others, but might be worth it.

My opinion is that for our purposes, Class VI road is perfectly fine, landlocked with no deeded access isn't.

Thanks all for the info, my original question was answered! I'll check the lots out in person in a few days back to back to see what shape the various forests are in.





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