Fire Road 53 Aerial Image

History of the Private Ways Statute

Maine's Private Ways law has been around a long time, having been originally passed by the First Legislature in 1821. There have been a few changes over the years, but the current law still resembles the original one passed immediately after Maine gained Statehood.

1821 Law [PDF]
Original Private Ways Law

1949 amendment [PDF]
Amendment to allow towns to authorize the use of its highway equipment to maintain private ways.

1951 amendment [PDF]
Amendment to allow towns and villages to authorize the use of its highway equipment to maintain private ways.

1954 recodifcation [PDF]
Modernized language

1961 amendment [PDF]
Minor changes to wording regarding neglect of owners to pay

1995 amendment [PDF]
Replaced references to Justice of the Peace with Notary Public

1997 amendment [PDF]
Modernized language; extended meeting notice period; narrowed applicability of statute to land parcels which own a road or have an easement on a road; allows collection of costs and attorney's fees if owner negelcts to pay; clarifies that process for collection is not abated by death of owner

1999 amendment [PDF]
Defines "repairs" as excluing paving except in certain circumstances; limits annual owner assessment to not exceed 1% of owner's property valuation

2005 amendment [PDF]
Required assessments to be in proportion to the valuation for property taxes

2007 amendment (Ch. 162) [PDF]
Further refines definition of "repairs" regarding pavement

2007 amendment (Ch. 526) [PDF]
Defines "maintenance" to include snowplowing; Allowed assessments to be determined by any fair and equitable method; permits use of email as a means of communication; association may permit 1 or 2 cotes per parcel; permits proxy voting; permits absentee voting; permits election of a board; exempts roads used primarily for commercial or forest management purposes

2009 amendment [PDF]
Grants limited immunity to road association directors, commissioners and volunteers.

2009 amendment [PDF]
Removes obsolete public posting requirement; allows association to exist perpetually, unless dissolved by majority vote; permits an association to obtain easements; expands on the ability of towns to opt to use its highway equipment to maintain private ways