Summer cottages are popular in the state of New Hampshire, as well as many other states. While you may go to visit yours during the summer months, did you ever think of what would happen if you were to try to get there during the winter? Many of these summer cottages are located on Class V highways. And while those highways are easily accessible during the warmer months of the year, they may not be in the middle of a snowy winter. There are many reasons for this but it is mostly because a few municipalities choose not to maintain these roads during the off-season.
The off-season is currently considered the dates of December 10th through April 10th. However, some municipalities may choose to close the road as early as November 15th and not open it until April 30th. Depending on where your summer cottage is located, you may have difficulty reaching it, even in an emergency.
To understand why this happens, and not only in the state of New Hampshire, you must know the difference between Class V highways and those highways that lead to summer cottages.
The Difference Between Class V Highways and Those Highways Leading to Summer Cottages
These two highways may appear to be the same, but they are not when it comes to maintaining the roads. Some municipalities choose to change the classification of these roads during the four month period I mentioned above. This new classification will then exclude those highways from the necessary maintenance that arrives with the winter season.
Currently, municipalities can choose a lay out process for any non-Class V road or new road or they can vote on any existing Class V highway. During this process, some municipalities incorrectly refer to all highways to summer cottages as Class VI highways or even private roads. If that happens, no lay out process is necessary, nor is a vote needed.
When a municipality chooses not to maintain a highway to summer cottages, they must post the opening and closing dates of the road at the entrances. This may ensure the owners of the summer cottages are aware of when the road will be maintained and opened. However, it does not ensure they can reach their summer cottages whenever they wish.
Another issue with these road closures is the damage that can be done to any of the summer cottages during the winter. Thankfully, municipalities must admit that there are consequences for their actions of not maintaining the roads. Therefore, property owners can seek restitution for any damages to their property during the time they could not reach it.
If you have a summer cottage that has a highway that is closed during the winter months, you may find that approaching your municipality is an excellent way to get the road maintained year round. All the municipality needs to do is reverse their decision via a lay out process or new vote.
There are no clear cut answers as to how you can easily reach your summer cottage during the months when the highway may be closed due to snow. But you can attempt to have the actions of your local municipality changed. Contact my office today and schedule a consultation to see what your options are.