2013 0210 ambulance stuck
An ambulance got stuck on Oak Drive after the February 2013 blizzard.

After nearly a year of controversy and debate, the Riverhead Town Board yesterday created an official list of “section 189” roads and adopted a new code that spells out the town’s responsibilities for those roadways.

The measures affect private roads that have been used by the public for at least 10 years and have been plowed by the town highway department in wintertime. The new code does not require the town to pave or otherwise improve the “section 189” roads.

But the Oak Hills Association, which successfully lobbied to have all but one of the roads in its Baiting Hollow community added to the list adopted this week (see below) isn’t satisfied with the town’s action. The town’s effort to limit or deny its responsibility for maintenance and repairs — the code purports to limit municipal responsibilities to snow plowing and sanding — is contrary to law, according to the community association.

The association argues that N.Y. State Highway Law section 189 requires the town to take over, as a public highway, “all lands which shall have been used by the public as a highway for the period of 10 years of more…with the same force and effect as if it had been duly laid out and recorded as a highway.” The town does not have the option to pick and choose which services it will provide, Oak Hills Association president Judith Miller argued in a July 30 letter to the Riverhead Town Board. The code adopted by the board this week, which officials have referred to as “189 light” does not comply with the town’s obligations under the state statute, she wrote.

Oak Hills residents, who packed a December public hearing on the subject,  submitted “about 50 notarized depositions” stating that the town “for decades has regularly and consistently provided a variety of services to our community including not only plowing, and sanding, but regular maintenance and repairs of our roads and drains as well as a host of other vital services provided throughout the town,” Miller wrote. Those services even included resurfacing in 1947, according to the testimony of one senior resident in the community. And the roads have always been open to the public, Miller wrote.

“The Town Board and Highway Superintendent do not have discretion to ignore or amend the [state]law,” Miller wrote. “Oak Hills should not have to enter a court action to require compliance.”

List adopted Aug. 4

  • Beach Club Lane, Wading River
  • Bell Avenue, Aquebogue
  • Benjamin Street, Wading River
  • Breezy Point Road, Wading River
  • Caroline Court, Aquebogue
  • Cedar Road, Baiting Hollow
  • Delores Avenue, Riverhead
  • East Lane, Wading River
  • Emmetts Lane, Wading River
  • Fern Road, East and West, Baiting Hollow
  • Forest Lane, Wading River
  • Glen Road West, Baiting Hollow
  • Harper Road, Baiting Hollow
  • Hobson Drive, Aquebogue
  • Kings Highway,Baiting Hollow
  • Laurel Hollow Court, Wading River
  • Laurel Lane, Wading River
  • Maple Road, Baiting Hollow
  • Meadow Drive, Baiting Hollow
  • Oak Drive, Baiting Hollow
  • Oak Lane, Wading River
  • Overlook Drive, Aquebogue
  • Red Fox Path, Wading River
  • Redleaf Court, Riverhead
  • Scallop Lane, Jamesport
  • Seaman Road, Jamesport
  • Shady Lane, Wading River
  • Summit Drive, Baiting Hollow
  • Telephone Street, Riverhead
  • Wema Road, Wading River
  • Wesley Ave, Jamesport
  • White Birch Court, Jamesport
  • Woodchuck Path, Wading River
  • Zion Street, Aquebogue

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.