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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    The case of the Waterford road the town thought it owned but didn’t

    Waterford ― For at least 30 years, the town assumed it owned Caroline Court, a small dead-end road off Old Norwich Road.

    So it came as quite a shock to Utility Commission Director James Bartelli and other town officials when they learned the road, which the town has plowed and maintained for three decades and which contains sewer lines and drainage, was owned by a resident.

    “This is a private piece of property that was never formally acquired. And I’m sure it was intended to, it just never happened,” Bartelli said.

    On Tuesday, the Board of Selectman took the first step toward rectifying the problem by voting to buy the road, plus a small turnaround at the end, for $1. The acquisition will still need Planning and Zoning Commission and Representative Town Meeting Approval.

    “I thought it was a town road. It’s a paved road, it’s got a street sign,” Bartelli said. “We have ― since Caroline Court existed ― we’ve always plowed the road. And the trash has always been brought out to the end of the road. To Old Norwich Road.”

    Towns also have to report roads to the state, and Caroline Court is on the state Department of Transporation’s local roads list.

    “Unfortunately, our records are wrong,” Bartelli said.

    Even Caroline Court residents thought the town owned the road.

    “No one in this whole neighborhood thought the town didn't own the road,” said Susan Campbell, a 40-year resident.

    Bartelli explained the issue had come to the town’s attention recently when Charles Renzoni attempted to transfer a lot with a barn at 7 Caroline Court to his son Jared, who owns a home on an adjacent property at 5 Caroline Court. That’s when the Renzonis discovered they owned the road.

    Bartelli said that when the town installed the sewer lines in the 1980s and ’90s, the road should have been acquired by the town but he could not say why that never happened.

    “Well, clearly in this case, and I don’t know why ― I wasn’t in the administration at that point ― we built a sewer line down this guy’s property and never took the road,” he explained to selectmen.

    Bartelli said officials have had a couple conversations with the Renzonis about resolving the issue, and that the course of action now, is to “acquire what we always assumed was ours in the first place.”

    Bartelli and Town Attorney Robert Avena said the Renzonis want to transfer the road to the town because having the utilities in it has created problems with their insurance company.

    Charles Renzoni said his family is hoping to complete the transfer “sooner rather than later.”

    d.drainville@theday.com

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