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A00326 Summary:

BILL NOA00326
 
SAME ASNo Same As
 
SPONSORGunther
 
COSPNSRJones, Buttenschon, Santabarbara, Woerner, Giglio JM, Palmesano, Barclay, DiPietro, Smullen
 
MLTSPNSRHawley, McDonough, Morinello, Pretlow
 
Add 205-c, Hway L; add 124, amd 1683, V & T L
 
Permits the designation of low volume roads and minimum maintenance roads by town boards and enacts provisions relating to the maintenance, improvement and repair of such roads.
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A00326 Actions:

BILL NOA00326
 
01/06/2021referred to transportation
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A00326 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A326
 
SPONSOR: Gunther
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the highway law and the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the maintenance, improvement and repair of certain town highways   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill authorizes towns to designate certain town roads as low-volume roads and certain low-volume roads as minimum maintenance roads.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends the highway law. Subdivision 1 defines low-volume roads and several classifications of low-volume roads. Subdivision 2 author- izes towns to adopt the low-volume road classifications and establishes the procedure to adopt such classifications. Subdivision 3 authorizes towns to designate certain low-volume roads as minimum maintenance roads and establishes the procedure to adopt such designation. Subdivision 4 sets out maintenance standards for minimum maintenance roads. Subdivi- sion 5 authorizes the process for petitioning to discontinue the minimum maintenance designation. Subdivision 6 authorizes road improvement financing for discontinued minimum maintenance roads under section 200 of the town law. Section 2 amends the vehicle and traffic law defining minimum mainte- nance road as designated by a town under section 205-c of the highway law. Section 3 amends the vehicle and traffic law designating a road as mini- mum maintenance.   JUSTIFICATION: In 1990 the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources sponsored a law establishing the NYS Local Roads Research and Coordination Council. The Council defined and promulgated standards for low-volume road classi- fication. The purpose in designating low-volume roads is to reduce costs associated with bringing such roads to state or national design stand- ards. Towns have been adopting local laws designating roads as low-vo- lume according to the Council's standards. This bill would establish the classification system in state highway law to provide assurance to towns that such designations have the authority of state law. In addition, this legislation would establish a comprehensive and trans- parent process for towns to designate recreational or agricultural roads as minimum maintenance as well as an appeal process for landowners. These low-volume roads would not require as much maintenance, such as plowing and grading, as other roads, saving towns money. Roads that are the primary access for farm operations, or that have a year-round residence at the time of designation, would not be designated minimum maintenance. Furthermore, the designation of minimum maintenance and the standards adopted cannot restrict farm operations in an Agricul- tural District even if the road is not a primary farm access road. Farm- ers who change the use of a field along a minimum maintenance road would be able to request that a town modify standards to allow for better access so that their farm operations are not restricted. Such restriction is already prohibited by the agricultural districts law. This bill would also establish a formal process for any landowners to petition to discontinue the minimum maintenance designation or to modify maintenance standards. It is difficult for many local highway departments lacking professional engineers to design or upgrade older low-volume roads that do not meet current engineering standards. In many rural towns the highway budget already exceeds 50% of total town expenditures, sometimes by a signif- icant amount. It is impractical for rural towns to afford this level of design, construction and maintenance. Low-volume and minimum mainte- nance designations would provide more realistic and affordable standards while maintaining public input. In addition to the fiscal relief that this bill affords, low volume, and particularly minimum maintenance roads, are a management tool that helps towns to maintain access to working landscapes such as forest lands, recreational areas and agriculture with reasonable costs. These desig- nations may also help prevent over-development or sprawl in rural areas reducing competition for the use of such lands.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2019-20: A3724 referred to Transportation/S2910 referred to Transporta- tion 2017-16: A418 referred to Transportation/52537 Passed Senate 2015-16: A1837 referred to Transportation/S2265: Passed Senate 2013-14: A1407 referred to Transportation/S1965: Passed Senate 2011-12: A6325 referred to Transportation/S3641A: Passed Senate 2009-10: A10377B referred to Transportation/S7181B: Passed Senate   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.   SUMMARY OF AMENDMENTS: Clarifies definition of minimum maintenance road. Adds language empha- sizing that minimum maintenance designation shall not restrict farm operations in Ag Districts. Requires the minimum maintenance standards be developed with the Town Highway Superintendent. Requires that a summary of findings be sent to affected landowners in addition to a public hearing notice. Makes hearing notice requirements consistent with current practices. Authorizes landowners to petition for modification of maintenance standards. Modifies the definition of minimum maintenance roads to specify that the volume of traffic is less than 50 cars per day.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law.
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A00326 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                           326
 
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                       (Prefiled)
 
                                     January 6, 2021
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by M. of A. GUNTHER, JONES, BUTTENSCHON, SANTABARBARA, WOER-
          NER, J. M. GIGLIO, PALMESANO, BARCLAY,  DiPIETRO,  SMULLEN  --  Multi-
          Sponsored by -- M. of A. HAWLEY, McDONOUGH, MORINELLO, PRETLOW -- read
          once and referred to the Committee on Transportation

        AN  ACT  to  amend  the  highway law and the vehicle and traffic law, in
          relation to the maintenance, improvement and repair  of  certain  town
          highways
 
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section 1. The highway law is amended by adding a new section 205-c to
     2  read as follows:
     3    § 205-c. Low volume roads. 1. When used in this section, unless other-
     4  wise expressly stated, or unless the context or subject matter otherwise
     5  requires, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
     6    a. "Low-volume road" shall mean a  town  highway  or  portion  thereof
     7  located  in a town, when such highway has an average daily traffic count
     8  of less than four hundred motor vehicles per day. Such  term  shall  not
     9  apply  to  any  highway  or road or portion thereof which has previously
    10  been abandoned pursuant to subdivision one of section two  hundred  five
    11  of  this  article  because  it shall not have been used or traveled as a
    12  highway for six years. Low volume roads may be classified as follows:
    13    (i) "Low-volume collector road" shall  mean  a  low-volume  road  that
    14  collects  traffic  from  any  other  classification and channels it to a
    15  higher level road, such as a state highway, arterial or interstate high-
    16  way.
    17    (ii) "Residential access road"  shall  mean  a  low-volume  road  that
    18  provides  access  to  residences.   The traffic generated depends on the
    19  number of residences. All year access for emergency vehicles and  school
    20  buses must be provided.
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD02717-01-1

        A. 326                              2
 
     1    (iii)  "Resource/industrial  access road" shall mean a low-volume road
     2  that provides access to forests  or  industrial  or  mining  operations.
     3  Traffic  volume  can vary and include heavy trucks, extractive machinery
     4  and significant numbers of employees' cars.
     5    (iv) "Agricultural land access road" shall mean a low-volume road that
     6  provides  access  to  farm  land.  Traffic  volumes  are  low  and  vary
     7  seasonally. Such roads shall accommodate farm equipment.
     8    (v) "Farm access road" shall mean  a  low-volume  road  that  provides
     9  principal  motor  vehicle access for the transport of goods and services
    10  necessary for effective support of a farm's daily operations to and from
    11  the primary location or center of such  operations.  Traffic  volume  is
    12  generally  low,  significantly less than four hundred motor vehicles per
    13  day, and may include occasional heavy vehicles  and  farm  equipment  as
    14  well as other motor vehicles.
    15    (vi)  "Recreation  land access road" shall mean a low-volume road that
    16  provides access to recreational land including seasonal dwellings, parks
    17  and recreational lands. Volumes can vary with  the  type  of  recreation
    18  facility, activity and season of the year.
    19    b.  "Minimum maintenance road" shall mean a low-volume agricultural or
    20  recreational access road or portion thereof with an average daily  traf-
    21  fic  count  of  less than fifty motor vehicles per day designated by the
    22  town as minimum maintenance pursuant to this section, except for a  farm
    23  access  road or a road which provides access to an individual year-round
    24  residence at the time it is proposed to be  designated  minimum  mainte-
    25  nance.  In  no  way shall the term "minimum maintenance" be construed to
    26  mean "no maintenance" or  "abandonment",  however,  such  roads  may  be
    27  closed  during certain times of the year subject to standards adopted by
    28  the town board.
    29    c. "Motor vehicle" shall mean a motor vehicle as  defined  by  section
    30  one hundred twenty-five of the vehicle and traffic law.
    31    2. a. The town board of any town may, by resolution, designate certain
    32  town  highways  as  low-volume roads or portions thereof pursuant to the
    33  classifications defined in this section. In classifying such roads,  the
    34  town  board  shall  base the classification on traffic volumes, types of
    35  vehicles using the road or portion thereof,  and  the  current  adjacent
    36  land  uses.  The  town board shall refer proposed classifications to the
    37  town highway superintendent and the town planning board, if  present  in
    38  such town.
    39    b.  Upon  receipt  of the proposed resolution, the town highway super-
    40  intendent and, where applicable, town planning board, shall report their
    41  recommendations to the town board, accompanied by  a  statement  of  the
    42  reasons for such recommendations within forty-five days of receipt. Upon
    43  receipt of the recommendations from the town highway superintendent and,
    44  where  applicable, town planning board, or upon the expiration of forty-
    45  five days from the date the proposed resolution was referred,  the  town
    46  board may adopt by majority vote, the local classification resolution.
    47    3.  a. The town board of any town may, after a public hearing, adopt a
    48  local law designating any low-volume road or portion  thereof  providing
    49  agricultural  or  recreational land access, except for farm access roads
    50  or roads that provide access to an individual  year-round  residence  at
    51  the  time  of  designation,  as  a minimum maintenance road. No such law
    52  shall restrict farm operations in an agricultural district.  Such  local
    53  law  shall  not prevent the state from maintaining such road if the road
    54  passes over, or provides access to, state land. No such law  designating
    55  a  minimum maintenance road shall be effective until minimum maintenance
    56  standards are adopted and signs are posted advising the public that such

        A. 326                              3
 
     1  road is a minimum maintenance road. No road, once designated  a  minimum
     2  maintenance road, shall be determined to have been abandoned pursuant to
     3  the  provisions  of  subdivision one of section two hundred five of this
     4  article  solely  because  it  has  been designated a minimum maintenance
     5  road.
     6    b. At least forty-five days prior to the public hearing on such  local
     7  law  the town board having jurisdiction over such road shall issue find-
     8  ings that such road or portion thereof should be  designated  a  minimum
     9  maintenance road. Such findings shall include, but not be limited to:
    10    (i) the volume and type of motor vehicle traffic on such road;
    11    (ii)  a  determination  that  the property owners of land abutting the
    12  road shall continue to have access to their property;
    13    (iii) a determination that the  users  of  the  road  traveling  at  a
    14  reasonable  and  prudent  speed,  under  the circumstances, shall not be
    15  placed in a hazardous situation;
    16    (iv) a determination that such road,  or  portion  thereof,  does  not
    17  constitute a farm access road as defined in this section;
    18    (v)  the  effect  of such designation on any farm operations dependent
    19  upon the road, and that such designation does not  restrict  farm  oper-
    20  ations in agricultural districts; and
    21    (vi)  the  standards of maintenance developed in consultation with the
    22  town highway superintendent to be provided for such road including,  but
    23  not limited to, the intention to close such road during certain times of
    24  the year.
    25    A copy of the town board's findings shall be made available for public
    26  inspection  in the town clerk's office and posted to the town website if
    27  available.
    28    A copy of the findings shall be sent to the school board of the school
    29  district in which each road is located and to the town  planning  board.
    30  Such school board and planning board may review the findings of the town
    31  board  and  within forty-five days file with the town clerk their recom-
    32  mendation and findings. In the event the school or planning board  takes
    33  no  action  within  the  forty-five day review period the town board may
    34  proceed without said board's  recommendation  and  findings.  School  or
    35  planning  board  review may be waived, shortened or extended upon mutual
    36  consent of said board and the town board. The town  board  of  the  town
    37  may,  by  resolution,  accept, accept in part, or reject the recommenda-
    38  tions of either the school or planning board prior to any vote upon  the
    39  proposed local law.
    40    A  copy  of the findings shall also be sent to the department of envi-
    41  ronmental conservation or any  other  relevant  state  agency  that  has
    42  jurisdiction  over  the  land that the road proposed to be designated as
    43  minimum maintenance passes over or provides access to.
    44    c. At least thirty days prior to the public hearing on such local law,
    45  written notice of such hearing, including a  summary  of  the  findings,
    46  shall  be served by certified mail upon every owner of real property, as
    47  determined by the latest completed assessment roll, abutting  such  road
    48  or portion thereof.
    49    d. The town clerk shall give notice of such hearing by the publication
    50  of  a  notice  in  at  least one newspaper of general circulation in the
    51  town, and post such notice on the town website if available,  specifying
    52  the  time  when  and  the  place where such hearing will be held, and in
    53  general terms describing the proposed resolution. Such notice  shall  be
    54  published  once  at  least five days prior to the day specified for such
    55  hearing.

        A. 326                              4
 
     1    4. A road or road segment, which has been designated  minimum  mainte-
     2  nance,  shall  be maintained at a level which allows the road to be made
     3  passable and functional in a  manner  determined  by  the  town  highway
     4  superintendent  in  accordance with the standards developed in consulta-
     5  tion  with the town highway superintendent and adopted by the town board
     6  to be consistent with the volume and type of traffic traveling  on  such
     7  road.    Such  standards shall not restrict access to farmland by a farm
     8  operation eligible for agricultural assessment pursuant to article twen-
     9  ty-five-AA of the agriculture and markets law.  Normal road  maintenance
    10  practices  including,  but not limited to, snow and ice removal, paving,
    11  patching, blading, dragging  or  mowing  may  be  done  less  frequently
    12  depending upon the existing conditions and use of the road but shall, at
    13  a  minimum, be consistent with other superseding standards or guidelines
    14  developed pursuant to state law. Minimum maintenance roads shall contin-
    15  ue to be part of the town highway system.
    16    5. a. Any person or persons owning or occupying real property abutting
    17  a road or portion thereof which has been designated  a  minimum  mainte-
    18  nance  road  may petition the town having jurisdiction over such road or
    19  portion thereof to discontinue the designation of such road as a minimum
    20  maintenance road or to modify the  standards  of  maintenance  for  such
    21  road.  Such  petition  shall  be filed with the clerk of the town having
    22  jurisdiction over such road. Such petition shall identify  the  road  or
    23  portion thereof to be discontinued as a minimum maintenance road and set
    24  forth  the  reasons  for  such discontinuance or modification.  The town
    25  board having jurisdiction over such road shall  hold  a  public  hearing
    26  upon  such petition within thirty days after its receipt. The town clerk
    27  shall give notice of such hearing by the publication of a notice  in  at
    28  least  one  newspaper  of general circulation in the town, and post such
    29  notice on the town website if available, specifying the  time  when  and
    30  the place where such hearing will be held, and in general terms describ-
    31  ing  the  proposed  resolution.   Such notice shall be published once at
    32  least five days prior to the day specified for such hearing.
    33    b. In the event the town board, after such public hearing,  determines
    34  that  such  designation  or standards shall continue unchanged, no addi-
    35  tional petition may be submitted by a person or persons pursuant to this
    36  section until the lapse of at least twenty-four months from the date  of
    37  the filing of the previous petition filed by such person or persons.
    38    c.  The town board having jurisdiction over a minimum maintenance road
    39  may adopt a local law discontinuing such minimum maintenance road desig-
    40  nation in the event it determines  such  discontinuance  to  be  in  the
    41  public interest.
    42    6.  Where the minimum maintenance road designation is discontinued, or
    43  a low-volume road classification is changed, road improvements  may,  in
    44  addition  to  other financing mechanisms available for road construction
    45  projects, be undertaken in accordance with section two  hundred  of  the
    46  town law.
    47    §  2.  The  vehicle and traffic law is amended by adding a new section
    48  124 to read as follows:
    49    § 124. Minimum maintenance road. A low-volume road or portion  thereof
    50  which  is  designated  by  the  town  having jurisdiction over such road
    51  pursuant to section two hundred five-c of the highway law.
    52    § 3. Subdivision (a) of section 1683 of the vehicle and traffic law is
    53  amended by adding a new paragraph 18 to read as follows:
    54    18. Designate a road or portion thereof as a minimum maintenance road.
    55    § 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after
    56  it shall have become a law.  Effective immediately, the addition, amend-

        A. 326                              5
 
     1  ment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implemen-
     2  tation of this act on its effective date are authorized to be made on or
     3  before such date.
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