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Fisch Road in Dummerston. The Dummerston Selectboard is considering a change in status for the road.

Town and Village

Town pursues change of status for Fisch Road

DUMMERSTON—The Dummerston Selectboard is moving closer to promoting Fisch Road from a Class 4 to a Class 3 road.

For about 30 years, Dummerston’s Highway Department has been maintaining the dead-end road, located about 2 miles from Sunset Lake. Because the road is Class 4, the town is under no obligation to do so.

But, “there are quite a few homes on that road,” Board Chair Zeke Goodband explained in an email to The Commons.

If the Selectboard decides to upgrade the road, it can receive state funding for maintaining it.

Treasurer Laurie Frechette researched the steps necessary to reclassify the road, and presented her findings to the board at its Sept. 30 regular meeting.

She said the board needs to set a time for a public site visit, warn the meeting, and provide 30 days notice to all whose land abuts the road. The board also needs to hold a public hearing and then decide within 60 days if it will change the road’s classification.

Board Clerk Gurudharm Khalsa asked if “there was a deliberate decision” by previous boards to keep Fisch Road a Class 4 road.

Highway Foreman Lee Chamberlin said he did not know.

Khalsa said he was concerned that, by upgrading the road, it might encourage subdividing and development on the road. He asked if this action was consistent with the Town Plan, and would the town be setting a possibly unwanted precedent.

Goodband reminded Khalsa the town is only changing the road’s designation — “we’re not upgrading the road.”

Chamberlin did not think this action would establish a precedent, and he does not foresee the town reclassifying other Class 4 roads.

In response to Khalsa’s asking him if there were other town Class 4 roads he recommended changing to Class 3, Chamberlin said he is “pretty sure” there are not.

“Will abutters have issues?” board member Jerelyn Wilson asked.

“It’s a win-win” for abutters and the town, Chamberlin said, adding the action would lead to “no right-of-way increase, just a class change."

He also surmised development on Fisch Road would “be the same,” if the town makes it a Class 3 road.

“It’s to the benefit of the people” who live on Fisch Road, board member Steve Glabach said. Goodband added “a more draconian board” could decide to stop maintaining the road were it to remain Class 4.

Goodband recommended setting a date for the site visit, and suggested the board “maybe have refreshments” at the event.

The site visit will occur at Fisch Road at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. The public hearing will take place at the Dummerston Community Center on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #327 (Wednesday, October 14, 2015). This story appeared on page D1.

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