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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Question Duty to Maintain a Public Road

    I own a home situated on 1.4 acres in New Jersey which I purchased in 2001. The home was built in 1918 and predates the tax map for the area. All of the roads which surround my property were vacated by the township in the mid 1960's. My deed includes portions of these vacated roadways. The designated access to my property is the bed of a vacated roadway which continues from my property, between two others, approximately 300 feet to a paved public road where it intersects with the unvacated portion of my street. This section of vacated road was never deeded by the property owners on either side and I am the only house which requires the use of the vacated roadway to access my property. Everyone else has roadway frontage and utilizes same as a primary entrance point. The gravel drive is approximately 12 feet wide, has trees on either side and, by appearance, is only a driveway. Due to the fact that my house is behind another and my street address is still maintained as the vacated street, my house has been difficult to find in cases where emergency personnel have been summoned.
    My deed mentions "private rights" within this section of vacated road and further states that I am "solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance" of it. The township has always advised me that I am responsible for the roadway, which I have done since purchasing the property (gravel replenishment, snow removal, etc.) which has amounted to approximately $4,500.00 over that time period.
    The township tax map had never been updated to include the fact that these sections of "paper roads" had been vacated. Citing their tax map information, the township has now claimed that the road is public with public access despite roadway vacation documents, although they do still recognize the portions deeded to me as private property. I am unable to locate documentation which reverses the vacation order. They claim that, based on my deed, I am still responsible for maintaining this portion of "public road" as they will not maintain a road which does not meet their current code standards. They further advised that it is my best interest to maintain it since I am the only house which uses it.


    - Is this a public roadway or an easement of sorts?

    - Could it be made public again merely by an act of township council?

    - If it is public, why am I left holding the bag for it's maintanance?

    - Is the fact that it no longer meets code standards a direct result of their
    neglecting it?

    - Shy of improving the vacated road to dramatically increase it's width and
    resemble a street or changing my street address to reflect the road
    which the driveway runs off of, do I have any right to have an address
    marker where the vacated portion of roadway meets the unvacated portion in order to show that my house is back there?

    - If someone should be injured on this portion of roadway, who is liable?
    Me as the one designated to maintain it or the township who claims to
    own it?

    Thanks in advance for any advice given.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Duty to Maintain a Public Road

    This is a rather complicated sitaution, and unfortunately you're not likely to get any fast answers without consulting a real estate lawyer.

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