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Road collapse causes more than just road rifts.

March 13, 2011

Chinmoy Lane, a quite cul de sac in the Merryall section of our town has become quite the topic here lately. On Monday, March 7th, at about 7:00 am, the road collapsed. Apparently a culvert washed away, leaving a 30 foot chasm, separating Chinmoy Lane residents from the rest of the world. Underground power lines went with the road, leaving them powerless, in more ways than one. Chinmoy Lane is home to about 20 families.
Tensions have been high. Residents of nearby Carl’s Lane were inundated with town officials and the Department of Public Works. One resident was scared to death as the town told her they would put an easement on her property and build a road. She felt as if she was given little to no choice in the matter, and didn’t understand what was going on. She didn’t know at the time her septic was at the edge of the road they proposed, so it was a no go. All she knew was she was scared the town would own a large piece of her property forever, that she would have a road attached to her driveway forever. The terms that have become familiar to those of us in real estate like easement, or license, or even the dreaded adverse possession are often totally misunderstood by the general public.

Residents of Carl’s Lane were told by their insurance companies not to allow anyone to pass through their properties. The New Milford Police Department instructed them to put up “No Trespassing” signs. It became a heated battle between the two roads being played out in the press. Understand, the configuration of the lots on Carl’s Lane would put septic systems, driveways, wells, etc., at risk. And due to the heavy snows we have received, on top of the heavy rains, the yards were saturated already. The residents of Carl’s Lane were asking to be indemnified by the town, but were told it was not possible. Stories were put out in the newspapers, vilifying these people who wanted to do the right thing in many cases, but were unable or too scared, or just plain confused. The word “easement” was tossed in their faces by officials pounding on their doors, they were petrified. It was not explained to the ones I know that a temporary easement, known as a license, could have solved the problem, then the town could indemnify the owners. Once the temporary bridge was in the temporary easement could have been removed, the temporary road removed, all would have been well, if indeed their was a way to put the road in without damaging their own properties. However…. there was no way, in many cases, to cut a road through because of septic systems, etc. Bad news… bad bad news. I wish the newspapers had really investigated instead of reporting the story as one sided as they did.

Michael and Kathleen Gold of West Meetinghouse Rd granted access, a temporary road was put at the far end of their property, and the residents of Chinmoy are free at last. I know Michael, I am not surprised that he jumped in to help. The town owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. & Mrs. Gold for their generosity. Although I would say the road is scary at best, but it is a way in and out. No more worries about being stranded at the very least. My friend Ann Fisher and myself took the new access road today, to try and get a better handle on the issue these people are facing. We came away with some pretty amazing photos of the power of Mother Nature, and a sense of frustration for all the residents of both Chinmoy Lane and Carl’s Lane.

Next Thursday a 60 foot temporary bridge from the State of Connecticut is being installed over the roadway that collapsed. Work will begin to repair the damage and put things back as they were. But one wonders if the neighborhoods of both Chinmoy Lane and Carl’s Lane will ever be the same again, they have both been hurt in this horrible disaster, more then we can possibly imagine.,-73.418756&spn=0.011229,0.018239&z=15&output=embed
View Chinmoy Lane Road Collapse in a larger map

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