Goffstown resident obtains driveway permit waiver, but still questions practice
GOFFSTOWN — Resident Kathy Zorawowicz was stunned when told she would have to pay a $100 fee to the town to repave her driveway, due to damage she said is the town’s fault.
While Zorawowicz successfully appealed the fee, she said she should not need a permit for work done on her dime, on her own property.
“I’m paying thousands of dollars to have this work done, and I’ve paid thousands of dollars in property taxes as well,” she said. “I don’t understand why I have to pay that (permit fee) to improve my driveway.”
Zorawowicz, of 35 Merrill Road, appeared before selectmen on Monday night requesting a permit to repave her 40-year-old driveway and to ask that the $100 permit fee be waived.
Zorawowicz asked why the fee exists. Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux said that the town has had this fee “for some time,” and that it exists to ensure roads won’t be damaged when a driveway is connected to a road. While it was originally for new driveways only, the fee was eventually expanded to include driveway modification.
In 2010, Desruisseaux said, Department of Public Works Director Carl Quiram said that residents were upset over the fee and recommended to the board that the fee be dropped to $25. However, the fee change was never enacted.
“Public Works’ concern is the connection to the road, to make sure it doesn’t impact the road and lead to deterioration of the road,” Desruisseaux said.
Zorawowicz countered that the reason her driveway needs repaving is because of the condition of Merrill Road over the last 15 years.
“We’re actually going to be spending thousands of dollars to have drainage installed in our property so that we don’t have puddling and pooling of water,” she said, adding that the water running onto her property from the road is causing rot on her house. “It’s one more burden upon us that I really don’t think is justified, she said.
Zorawowicz said the runoff onto her property has gotten worse since the town repaired Merrill Road.
Selectman Peter Georgantas said the board should waive the fee in Zorawowicz’s case.
“If they’re fixing their own driveway, we shouldn’t be charging them $100 or $25 or anything — we should be working with her,” he said.
Vice Chairman Nick Campasano said that the board should continue to consider such appeals individually.
“We’re not setting a precedent; we’re looking at it case by case,” he said.
A vote to waive Zorawowicz’s driveway repaving fee was 4-to-1, with Brown abstaining.
Zorawowicz said on Friday that no one should need a permit for work done on private property, saying it’s “none of (the town’s) business.”
She also said that it was not the dollar amount that upset her; rather, she’s troubled about having to get a permit to improve her own property.
Zorawowicz said most of the damage occurred in the early 2000s, with the driveway heaving and freezing each winter. Over the years, the edge of the driveway eroded. Repairs were done but the driveway eventually needed to be torn out completely.
Zorawowicz acknowledged the town did its best to fix the issues with the road, including adding a berm to the edge of her driveway.
“The problems have been alleviated, however, our driveway had been pretty much destroyed prior to (the road repairs),” she said.
Zorawowicz hired Brown’s firm, John A. Brown Excavation, to install drainage from her house to the storm drain. Brown was the person who informed Zorawowicz about the permit.
“Nobody ever took the time, like I did, to go (to the board) and question it,” Zorawowicz said, positing that may be the reason the fee was never reduced to $25. “Most people would just not want to ‘fight city hall,’ so to speak, and would just pay it or whatever.”
Zorawowicz also said that, on Thursday, a town-owned vehicle was parked outside her home taking pictures of the property. When she asked what the driver was doing, they sped off.
“Apparently they didn’t know I had got the permit waived,” she said. “They drive around and if they notice someone’s having driveway work done, they’ll take a picture and they’ll go back and investigate whether or not the people paid” the permit fee. Zorawowicz said Department of Public Works secretary Cathy Willmott gave her the information.
“I feel like Big Brother’s watching me,” Zorawowicz said. “Why am I spending all this time and energy on this silly little driveway?”