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Controversy on Chestnut Lane cleared up by the Boston Town Board

BOSTON — For the second consecutive meeting of the Boston Town Board, Boston resident Bryant Burns sought out answers for his concerns regarding property that adjoins Chestnut Lane and Hillside Drive.

On March 5, Supervisor Martin Ballowe and Town Attorney Mike Kobiolka took time and taxpayer money to ensure that the controversy was over. By meeting’s end, Ballowe referred to the matter as “dead,” saying, “I’m done with it.”

Burns began his inquiry by asking if the board required approval for “a job like the one that was proposed at the end of Chestnut Lane; the one where they were considering developing the end of the road.” The board referred questioning to Kobiolka, who clarified that the approval comes “under the supervision of [Bob Telaak,] highway superintendent.” The work to which Burns referred was a proposed snowplow turnaround, which never materialized.

“[Telaak] was donating land to the town for a turnaround for safety for plowing,” Ballowe said. “When we all five accepted it ... we gave him permission to start cutting the trees down and making a turnaround.” Kobiolka affirmed that no other approval was needed, because the work was done on private property.

Burns said, “So the highway superintendent has the authority to conduct road construction (without the town’s approval) to that extent, at the end of Chestnut Lane. Is that a yes or no?”

Kobiolka said that Telaak will “take care of that road in the manner which he feels is most efficient and safe for all the residents in the town. And we’re splitting hairs in terms of whether or not the board has to do it.”

Burns pointed out that surveys were done for the intended construction and accurately assumed those surveys were done at the cost of the town, as Ballowe affirmed, saying, “We wanted a turnaround.”

“If there needed to be a survey done, was that a large enough job where the town board would have had to approve – yes or no – that type of job?” Burns asked.

“When we got to the point of the turnaround, absolutely,” Ballowe said. “There would have had to be town approval. The paper road belongs to the town, and if Bob feels the need to extend it, he can extend it.”

Burns asked to speak with each board member individually, regarding approval for anything done on that property, but Ballowe said that he could answer for everyone, saying, “We all wanted the turnaround.”

Ballowe clarified, “There was approval to accept the land that Bob Telaak was going to give us, the highway superintendent. There was approval to go ahead with a survey, so we were making sure we were on town property. There was approval for him to go up and start clearing some of the trees.

“When you came up and said you didn’t want a turnaround up there, you didn’t feel it necessary, what did this board do? They jumped on it, took action [and] they put the ballards up for safety reasons [and] stop signs up at both ends – made everybody happy. The project was over, cut and dry. Done. The road’s not there.”

Burns asked for the approximate date that the survey was approved to be conducted, but that information was not on hand for the town board.

The resident asked that two additional issues be addressed. Saying that the snowplows have been pushing snow to the end of the Hillside Drive, Burns reported that he believes his right-of-way was being obstructed. In addition, he said that a town employee threatened him, and that neither of these issues have been addressed.

“No,” Ballowe said. “We addressed [the threat] the next day,” Kobiolka explained.

“With regards to the incident report that you had indicated that you had a copy of the report, I called the sheriff’s office the next day, after I met with you on Feb. 19, approximately 8:15, and you showed me. You didn’t have an incident report. You just had a number. I called the sheriff’s office, and they said there was no report made. [The sheriff’s office] said it didn’t rise to the level of making a report. That’s what they told me.”

“Just so we’re perfectly clear,” Councilman Jay Boardway inserted, “we trust our town attorney tremendously in his due diligence in following up and things like that. As you were told, quite clearly at the last meeting you were at, we also take very seriously the conduct of our employees. Our employees in this town are stellar, each and every one of them. In the last 4 1/2-plus years I’ve been sitting here, I do give them a certain benefit of the doubt.

“This incident was looked into,” he added. “It was found to essentially be a non-reliable report to the sheriff’s department, to the point where they didn’t make a written report. Just so you’re clear, we looked into it and we decided it was unfounded.”

Regarding Burns’ supposed right-of-way, due to an easement on Burns’ property, Kobiolka said, “I checked that out with the title company; that [easement] does not give you access to Hillside Drive.” Burns claimed that the road was private, but Kobiolka said that the highway law specified that it is a town road.

“We also did a title search on your property, at the expense of the taxpayers of about $500, to settle this,” Ballowe said, “and it shows nowhere that you have an easement onto Hillside Drive. We [did] a title search on your property. It shows no easement onto Hillside Drive. Hillside Drive is a town road, so by all rights, he has the right to plow the snow to the end of the road.

“Your address is on Chestnut Lane,” he added. “I have your title. I gave a copy of your title to every board member here; I gave them copies of everything. Everybody has it, so your easement that you misled our town attorney to believe, Brian, that was on Hillside, is actually on Chestnut Lane.” The supervisor presented the documentation he had on hand, to prove his assertion.

In closing, Ballowe said, “The road belongs to the town. We got to the bottom of it. We spent tax dollars on this, which I felt unnecessary. For us all up here, for myself, it’s dead. It’s done with.”

In other board news:
– The board approved resolution 2014 – 05, to authorize an inter-municipal agreement for out-of-district water customers.

– Having reviewed the 2013 Volunteer Firefighter Service Award Program points for the North Boston Volunteer Fire Company, Boston Volunteer Fire Company and Patchin Volunteer Fire Company, the board approved the points listings.

– A bid by Mark Adamchick CPA of $2,700 for the USDA Water District Audit for the year ending Dec. 31 was accepted and carried by the board.

The Boston Town Board will hold its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. on March 19 at the Boston Town Hall, located at 8500 Boston State Road in Boston.

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