Some home owners in Vermont are learning that long-forgotten public roads are running through their property, and are concerned about how that may affect their property values.
The discovery of these old roads came as a result of research by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, which represents about 38,000 snowmobilers. The association taught members how to compare road atlases from the 1850s with today’s highway maps to find roads that might have gotten lost over the years.
If the roads are on the map but never officially decommissioned, then homeowners whose properties they cross will have an encumbrance on their land that can impact value. In addition, the state’s largest title insurer has threatened to stop writing policies in three towns where a number of old-road cases have cropped up.
In Charlotte, Vt., the town’s research has turned up 12 old roads that it is considering claiming. Once it decides which of those it wants to pursue, it will hold separate public hearings for each.
“You can’t see them, and they were used 200 years ago, if they were used at all,” says Eleanor Russell, chairwoman of the Charlotte select board. “But they are still legitimate roads.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal, Ernest Sander (02/15/2007)
Bennington VT, Buying, Selling