** Regulations that may affect you and your property: **
Town Roadway Right-of-Ways and Your Property
One of the more frequent issues that impacts resident's dealings with the Department of Public Works is making improvements within the Town's right-of-way for the abutting street. Unless residents live in a relatively new house or have gone through the expense of a survey of their property, they are generally unaware of where their front property line is located - this front property line is also the limit of the right-of-way for the street. Town rights-of-way cannot be improved by abutting residents!
What are "improvements"? Generally they involve fences or walls that are installed beyond the property line, trees or shrubs that are planted beyond the property line, or landscaping features (like sprinkler systems or railroad timbers) installed beyond the property line. By law, the only items allowed within the right-of-way are the traveled way itself (including sidewalks) and utilities as authorized by the Town (all utility poles within the right-of-way are located there with the permission of the Town and if they are to be relocated, removed, or new ones installed, the utility companies must petition the Board of Selectmen). Mailboxes, if installed in accordance with the Mailbox Policy established by the Highway Division and the Postal Service, may also exist in the right-of-way.
The widths of the Town's rights-of-way are extremely variable but in no cases does the roadway edge of pavement coincide with the limits of the right-of-way. Older Town roads frequently have a right-of-way width of "2 rods", an old unit of measurement that equals 16½' per rod, or a total width of 33'. Newer streets are often 40' or 50' wide, and some State or County layouts for Town roads are even wider. With the average width of paving of 18' to 22' on less traveled roads, and 22' to 25' on busier streets, there is generally 5' to 13' on each side of the paved surface that is part of the right-of-way, not part of the abutting property. Sidewalks and grass strips lie within these limits as well. Residents cannot make improvements the right-of-way as noted above ! The Highway Division does not object to residents maintaining the right-of-way adjacent to their property as long as the maintenance consists of mowing grass and weeds for a well-kept appearance.
The Highway Division is responsible for maintaining the right-of-way so as to provide a safe traveled way. Beyond the roadway and sidewalk themselves, the Highway Division must do weed control and mowing as well as tree trimming (and cutting as necessary) primarily to provide adequate sight distance as well as to prevent obstructions near the traveled way itself and will do this work within the rights-of-way without notification to abutters. Any damage done to private improvements in the right-of-way is not the liability of the Highway Division. The DPW may also contact you if we notice any improvements being done in the right-of-way, a "courtesy call" advising you to stop installing any improvements. If you have any doubts in this regard, please contact the Town Engineer or the Highway Division to have it checked out. Although the Town will not do a survey of your property, we can let you know if the right-of-way is being impacted.
Snow Removal By-law:
"No person, other than an employee of the Town of Pepperell acting in an official capacity, shall direct, discharge, dump, plow, blow, shovel, or deposit snow, ice, or water subject to freezing onto, into, or across any public way (including sidewalks), or cause, direct, sanction, or authorize any such activity involving snow, ice, or water on a public way (including sidewalks). Violation of this By-law shall be punished by a fine of $25 for the first offense, and $50 for each subsequent offense. Enforcement authority for the By-law shall rest with the Highway Superintendent and the Pepperell Police Department."
Winter Parking Ban:
The Pepperell Police would like to remind residents that the winter parking ban is in effect between November 1 and April 1. No vehicles are allowed to remain on the street overnight during this timeframe. This is to allow for unimpeded snow removal and sanding by the Highway Department. Violators will be subject to parking fines and/or towing if required. Your cooperation will be appreciated in order to provide efficient winter maintenance of the roads.
Road Opening regulations and permit application :
Any excavation within the right of way of a Town road must have a permit approved by the Highway Superintendent prior to the start of work. The application (download PDF 9KB) for a Road Opening Permit also satisfies the requirements of the 2008 Excavation and Trench Safety Regulations of the Commonwealth.
As provided in Section 152-5 of the Code of the Town of Pepperell, any excavation in a public way will require a written Street Opening Permit, issued prior to commencement of work.
The Highway Superintendent shall be the receiving party for applications for Street Opening Permits, and shall be the issuing authority for same.
All applications for Street Opening Permits submitted to the Highway Superintendent must be accompanied by copies of the applicant’s certificates of insurance for liability and Worker’s Compensation.
The holder of the Permit and/or any agent or designee thereof shall indemnify and hold harmless the Town Pepperell against all claims for damages or injuries to persons or property, and against all costs, suits, expenses, and losses incurred by any person(s) or damage(s) to any property, arising from or related to any work performed pursuant to a Street Opening Permit.
Failure to obtain a Street Opening Permit prior to excavation in a public way, or failure to comply with the following regulations will make the Permit holder and/or his agents and designees subject to a penalty of $250 for an initial offense, and $500 for each subsequent offense within a calendar year thereafter.
In all circumstances (except in the case of an emergency), the Highway Superintendent will issue a written Street Opening Permit, in response to a written application. Verbal applications will not be accepted, and verbal authorizations will not be given. “Emergencies” shall be defined as a breakdown or failure of underground facilities owned or maintained by a public utility.
Permits shall be issued only in the period April 1 to December 1 within any calendar year.
The Highway Superintendent may, at his or her sole discretion, require that the permitted party be bonded prior to initiating any excavation.
The permittee shall be responsible for provision, at no cost to the Town of Pepperell, of all necessary signs, cones, traffic warning signals, or other safety devices in such number and nature as may be required by the Highway Superintendent and/or the Chief of Police, or any agent thereof.
Except as provided for “Emergency” circumstances, above, no permit shall be issued for excavation with a public way or any area of a public way which has been resurfaced within three (3) years preceding the date of application.
If an applicant feels that there are sufficient extenuating circumstances to justify, in any particular instance, an exception to the restriction established under section 5 above, a formal, written request detailing such circumstances may be submitted to the Highway Superintendent for consideration.
All work conducted in the public way pursuant to a valid Street Opening Permit shall be conducted in such a workmanlike manner, so as to minimize obstruction or impedance of traffic flow.
The Chief of Police may, at his sole discretion, require that a permitted project in a high-traffic or safety-sensitive area utilize one or more police officers, to be provided at the permittee’s own expense, for traffic control or protection of public safety.
On each day that work is performed on a public way pursuant to a valid Street Opening Permit, the permittee must give notice to the Pepperell Communications
Center prior to commencing work, and again at the end of the day, when the public way has been cleared of project-related obstruction.
Excavation areas in the traveled way shall be saw cut, in straight lines, to the frill depth of the pavement. Excavation shall only transpire within those lines.
Backfilling shall be performed utilizing the material that was excavated, if acceptable to the Highway Superintendent. Backfill material shall be replaced in six-inch increments, each compacted to a 95% density. The top twelve inches (12”) of backfill in any excavation shall be composed of gravel, with a stone size no greater than two inches (2”). A permanent patch shall be installed, to be composed of a minimum of three-and-one-half inches (3.5”) of bituminous concrete, incorporating a two-inch (2”) binder and a one-and-one-half inch (1.5”) top.
The permittee is responsible for notification of Dig Safe and all other local utilities which are or might be affected by the proposed work.
Any excess earth material remaining after backfilling of the excavation shall be disposed of as directed by the Highway Superintendent, and at no cost to the Town of Pepperell.
Excavation material may only be placed on the traveled way if its location will not impede the flow of traffic on such way. If excavated materials are placed on the traveled way, the permittee will be responsible for providing a mechanical sweeper, which shall sweep the affected area of pavement after the excavation has been backfilled, on each and every day the project is in progress.
Any driveway, sidewalk, street intersection, shoulder, lawn, shrub, sign, or pavement marking disturbed or affected by any project conducted pursuant to a valid Street Opening Permit shall be restored, at no cost to the Town of Pepperell, to its location and/or condition existing prior to the commencement of work.
No tree, tree limb, brush, shrub, or similar vegetation shall be cut without the prior approval of the Tree Warden.
Catch basins, drainage pipes, manholes, and utility structures shall be protected during all work performed pursuant to a valid Street Opening Permit, and shall be adjusted to grade. Any damage to such structures resulting from work performed under the said permit shall be repaired, at no cost to the Town of Pepperell, to original working condition.
Unless previously agreed upon by the Highway Superintendent and/or the Chief of Police, no excavation or trench shall be allowed to remain open overnight in the public way, and no construction equipment shall be left parked overnight within the public way.
Traffic warning devices shall be provided by the permittee at no cost to the Town of Pepperell, and suitably placed to alert motorists to existing road conditions; said devices shall be maintained in place until such time as a temporary patch is installed. At no time shall there be more than 300 feet of excavated and/or backfilled trench without a temporary bituminous patch.
Prior to application of the final patch of bituminous concrete, the sides of the trench will be saw cut, eight inches (894) back on each side, in straight lines.
If, as agreed at the time of issuance of a Street Opening Permit, the entire width of the street wherein an excavation is to be made will be repaved upon completion of the project, such work will performed by the machine method, with no less than one-and-one-half inches (1.5”) of depth of bituminous concrete, which will not be applied within one (1) year of the original excavation.
The permittee will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the original excavated area for a period of thirteen (13) months from the original excavation date, and may, at the sole discretion of the Highway Superintendent, be required to post a bond to ensure satisfactory performance in that regard.
Adopted September, 2002. Download Regulations (PDF 16KB)
Mailbox and Newspaper Delivery Box Installation Policy:
No mailbox or newspaper delivery box (hereafter jointly referred to as "mailbox") will be allowed to exist on the Town's right-of-way if it interferes with the safety of the traveling public or the function, maintenance, or operation of the highway system. A mailbox installation that does not conform to the provisions of this regulation is an unauthorized encroachment on a way as referenced in MGL CHAPTER 86, SECTION 3.
The location and construction of mailboxes shall conform to standards established by the Town of Pepperell or as to the rules and regulations of the U.S. Postal Service as applicable. The Town standards for the location and construction of mailboxes are available from:
Highway Division, 45 Lowell Road
Town Engineer's Office, Town Hall
A mailbox installation that conforms to the following criteria will be considered acceptable unless in the judgment of the Highway Superintendent, the installation interferes with the safety of the traveling public or the function, maintenance, or operation of the highway system.
Mailboxes shall be located on the right-hand-side of the roadway, looking in the direction of the delivery route (contact the Postal Service with questions on the direction of delivery). The bottom of the box shall be set at an elevation established by the U.S. Postal Service. The roadside face of the box shall be offset from the edge of the traveled way a distance of 3 feet unless curbing exists, in which case the box will be 1' from the face of curb and installed so that the box in parallel to the street and opens to face the delivery direction.
Where a mailbox is located at an intersecting road it shall be located a minimum of 100' beyond the centerline of the intersecting road looking in the direction of the delivery route.
Where a mailbox is located at a driveway entrance, it shall be place on the far side of the driveway looking in the direction of the delivery route.
Where a mailbox is installed in the vicinity of an existing guardrail, it should, wherever practical, be placed behind the guardrail.
Mailboxes shall be of light sheet metal construction. Plastic mailboxes do not hold up to winter conditions and will not be replaced unless directly hit by a snow plow.
Stubs of utility poles are not acceptable as mailbox supports. A timber support post is required, with a maximum size of 4"x4". No granite posts will be allowed.
Shoulder and Parking Area Construction:
It will be the responsibility of the postal patron to inform the U.S. Postal Service of any new or existing mailbox installation where shoulder construction is inadequate to permit all-weather vehicular access to mailbox.
No mailbox is to be located on a sidewalk. Where questions arise regarding the location and support of mailboxes in locations with sidewalks, the Highway Superintendent shall make the final decision. Under no circumstances will any work be done on the sidewalk itself except by the Highway Division.
No new mailboxes will be placed on a sidewalk in a pail, cement block, tire, or any similar type of holder.
Removal of Nonconforming or Unsafe Mailboxes:
Any mailbox that is found to violate the intent of this regulation shall be removed by the postal patron upon notification by the Highway Department. At the discretion of the Highway Department, based on an assessment of the hazard to the public, the patron will be granted not less than 24 hours nor more than 30 days to remove an unacceptable mailbox.
Mailbox Replacement if Damaged by Snow Removal:
The Town will not replace a mailbox unless it is hit directly by a snowplow; the Town will replace a mailbox if the Town's plow came in direct contact with a well-maintained mailbox or post. The Town will not replace a mailbox or post that are in poor condition.
Only mailboxes constructed in conformity with this policy and U.S. Postal Service regulations will be put on list for repair.
Mailboxes to be fixed will be put on a list and repaired when the Highway Department is back on a regular schedule and all weather-related priorities have been completed.
A $10.00 maximum expense will be the limit for any replacement.
The Department will not fix mailboxes that have been installed too close the street or are in violation of any other section of these regulations. Any mailbox that is plastic, wood, cement, brick or any other type, or anchored in a bucket, attached to a tree or a metal pipe, or hung from chain will not be fixed or replaced by the Department.
This policy was established in February 2003 as a combined effort of the Pepperell Highway Superintendent and the Postmaster of the Pepperell Post Office. January 2010 revisions did not change any requirements originally established by the Post Office.
Basketball Nets, Hoops, Backboards:
Basketball nets, hoops, and backboard structures are not permitted in the Town's roadway right-of-way and may be inadvertently damaged by Highway Division maintenance, street cleaning, and snow removal vehicles.