[Adopted 8-2-1976 by Ord. No. 160 (Ch. 21, Part 1B, of the 1981 Code of Ordinances)]
The Township Council of Peters Township hereby enunciates and adopts the policy of accepting as many existing roads and/or streets as possible in the Township into the Township road system.
In situations where a given road which has been heretofore classified or referred to as a "private road" is to be considered for acceptance into the road system, an initial investigation shall be conducted by the Township and such investigation shall be designed to determine whether or not the road has ever been formally accepted by Township resolution; whether the road or street is part of a subdivision which has been recorded in the Recorder's Office of Washington County and which contains dedications and/or releases of damages, or whether the road or street has, in fact, been used on a regular basis by the public, giving rise to an acceptance by implication and by public user. After this investigation has been completed, a recommendation shall be made to Council as to whether or not the road can be incorporated into the road system. If the investigation establishes that legal impediments exist which prevent the acceptance of the road or street or which may give rise to damages in the event the road or street is accepted, Council may, if it feels such action is appropriate, authorize and allocate such funds as may be necessary to acquire the necessary consents, waivers, rights-of-way, or releases which will alleviate the legal impediments and enable the Township to accept the road or street into the road system.
[Amended 2-28-1996 by Ord. No. 523]
The Council shall consider accepting a private road into the Township road system or effectuating the procedure outlined in § 376-8 of this article when it shall receive a petition requesting the acceptance of the street involved into the Township road system executed by a majority of the property owners who abut on the street or portion of street which is being considered for acceptance, or in such other situations as Council, in its discretion, shall deem appropriate after analysis of the circumstances surrounding the use of the road and its potential to enhance the public safety and welfare.
Even though this may ultimately result in the expenditure of municipal funds, the overall objective is of such importance to the growth of the Township that Council shall be authorized to allocate from the general fund such amounts as may be necessary to implement the project, and such funds may be used, by way of illustration, to acquire deeds of dedication, easements and rights-of-way and to obtain releases and waivers of damage in order to remove the legal impediments preventing the acceptance of a given street.
The Council shall treat a proposed street or road which is to be incorporated into the Township road system on an individual basis and shall investigate the facts surrounding the issue of whether the Township has a legal basis for accepting the road and/or street into its road system. The Council shall then request the Township Solicitor to make a recommendation as to the appropriate legal approach which can be utilized in a given circumstance to accomplish this objective, together with an estimate of the possible damages and costs involved in taking over the specific individual road and/or street involved.
Upon receipt of this information, the Council shall make a definitive decision whether, in light of the legal problems and the estimated costs involved, the road and/or street shall be further considered for acceptance. If an affirmative decision is reached, the Council shall establish the procedure to be followed and shall authorize the expenditure of such funds as may be necessary to carry out this procedure.
In arriving at its decision, the Council may authorize the Township Engineer and the Township Solicitor to review each proposed road or street from an engineering and legal standpoint. This review may include, but not necessarily be limited to, a consideration of the costs of improving the street and/or road and of acquiring the necessary deeds of dedication, easements, rights-of-way, releases and waivers of damages.
Whenever appropriate, all of the costs of accepting the road and/or street into the Township road system, including, but not necessarily limited to, the legal fees, the engineering charges, the costs of securing and recording appropriate deeds of dedication, easements, rights-of-way, releases and waivers of damages, together with such other administrative expenses as may result, shall be apportioned equitably against all involved property owners pursuant to law and consistent with the Township's established policy. If this is not possible because of legal impediments or otherwise not feasible, then and in that event, such amounts as may be necessary may be appropriated out of the general fund to accomplish these objectives.
When the acceptance of a particular road and/or street requires an implied acceptance by public user, the appropriate municipal officials shall determine such facts as are available and the Council shall either hold a public hearing or place the matter on the agenda of a regular Council meeting, at which time documentation and evidence may be introduced into the record on the issue. Township residents and interested parties shall be authorized to offer such evidence as may be appropriate in the premises and an overall determination shall be made as to whether or not there has been an implied dedication of acceptance by public user which will authorize legal acceptance of the road and/or street into the Township road system.
The procedure which shall be adopted for considering whether or not to accept a particular street and/or road into the Township road system shall conform in all respects, except as otherwise specifically outlined herein, to the procedure utilized in considering curative amendments submitted to the Council as far as hearings, the production of documents, the taking of testimony and the submission of evidence are concerned.
In the event a hearing is held, or the matter is placed on the agenda, a verbatim record will be made of all testimony and comments which are made, and all documentation shall be appropriately marked as exhibits and kept in a separate file pertaining to the road and/or street involved.
Any street, road, or part thereof, accepted under this Article II into the Township road system, shall comply with the minimum requirements of PennDOT, covering the allocation of liquid fuel tax receipts and the standards promulgated in connection therewith.
The Township, upon appropriate action by the Council, may grade, curb, gutter, pave or otherwise improve with brick, stone or any suitable materials, any public street, road, or part thereof, laid out and opened in the Township, accepted by formal resolution or declared in appropriate proceeding to be a public road by virtue of public user. Such work may be done by employees of the Township or by contract, as the Council shall determine. No street, road, or any part thereof shall be improved under the provisions of this Article II except upon the petitions of a majority of the owners of property abutting on the street, road, or part thereof proposed to be improved.
The costs and expenses of any such improvement may be collected from the owners of the real estate abutting on such street, road, or part thereof by an equal assessment on the feet front. Such assessment shall be estimated by the Township Engineer, or if there be no Township Engineer, by other competent authority designated by Council. If this standard of assessment is impracticable, or for any reason inequitable, the Township Engineer, or other competent authority designated by Council, shall adopt such other method of assessment as may be legally acceptable and equitable in the premises.
Prior to improving any street, road, or part thereof, an investigation shall be conducted under the direction of the Township Engineer to determine the possible existence of utility lines under the street, road, or part thereof, proposed to be improved and the said street, road, or part thereof, shall not be improved unless or until appropriate steps are taken to either remove the utility lines or to otherwise alleviate the problem in a manner satisfactory to the Township Engineer.
Council shall also establish such other procedures and adopt such regulations as may be appropriate in the premises to effectuate the general intent of this Article II.