AUGUSTA — Residents on Three-Cornered Pond want something the residents of most other homes in the city get now: their trash picked up at their homes by the city.

But not all of them are willing to sign over a public easement to their private roads that officials say is required for city crews to venture onto those roads to collect trash.

In response to the request from residents to have the city pick up rubbish on Buck and Doe Trail and Lone Indian Trail some city councilors want to see that policy changed. They would like to require only that a road or homeowners association, not each property owner on a road, sign an indemnification agreement with the city to protect the city legally while also providing taxpayers with a basic municipal service enjoyed by the residents of most other residences in Augusta.

However, municipal staff are warning that if everyone living on the 137 private roads in Augusta want trash collection at their doorstep it could add between $60,000 and $165,000 in annual costs to the city and have impacts on city staff and equipment.

And a lawyer for the city warned an indemnification or waiver would likely be a lesser level of legal protection for the city than the currently-required public easement which each property owner on a private road must currently authorize. The lawyer also said the change would be less compliant with state law that generally says public money should not be used on private land.

City crews currently pick up rubbish at a Weeks Mills Road collection site where Three-Cornered Pond residents bring their trash. Gary Hill, president of the Three-Cornered Pond Owners Association, said the rubbish collection area has become a health and environmental hazard, because animals tear into trash bags there and rubbish blows around the area and onto abutting properties, and people from other towns illegally dump their trash their, too.


So he and other residents around the pond are seeking to have their rubbish picked up at their individual driveways, the same as Augusta residents living in homes on public roads. Hill said at least one association member objected to signing over a public easement to the city, as currently required, out of concern it would provide an easement to the general public as well and lead to increased traffic on their private roads.

“We’re just looking for the same basic municipal service that everybody in Augusta enjoys, and that’s trash pickup,” Hill told city councilors at their meeting last week. “I don’t understand why the city needs to have a public easement on this.”

Lesley Jones, public works director, said the city currently provides rubbish pickup on 22 roads where it has been granted public easements. She said the city’s policy requiring public easements was set in 2005, as a way to protect the city from liability should an accident or damage occur on one of the roads.

Currently Kennebunk and Biddeford provide rubbish collection on private ways and only require indemnification agreements with road or homeowner associations on those roads, not full easements. Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind, and other city councilors, suggested Augusta should consider that kind of approach.

Lind, who noted residents around the pond pay a significant amount of property taxes, said the city isn’t being asked to collect rubbish on every private road in the city.

City Manager Susan Robertson said city staff and its lawyers could work on a potential policy allowing rubbish pickup to be done on roads where the city is given indemnification, instead of an easement, and report back to the council. Cameron Ferrante, an attorney working for the city, said he’d have to research whether a road or homeowners association could sign an indemnification agreement with the city or if that would still require all landowners on a road to sign off, as city policy does now of easements.

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