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Town of Dennis, Massachusetts
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Is my road a Town or private road and what is the difference?
A road is either “ State”, “Town Owned” or “privately owned”.  All Town owned roads are “open to the public” and the Dennis Department of Public Works (DPW) is responsible for all maintenance including snow plowing. A privately owned road can either be “open to the public” or “closed to the public”.  On a privately owned road that is “open to the public” and therefore considered a “public way”, the DPW will plow snow and perform minor maintenance such as brush trimming. They do not perform significant maintenance such as paving and drainage. On a privately owned road “closed to the public” (a road that is posted “Residents Only, No Trespassing, or some other form attempting to deny the public access), the DPW does not perform any maintenance or snow plowing. State law prohibits the expenditure of tax payers’ money on these types of roads.

How do I change the street number of my house or business?
To change an existing street address you need to complete a short application form (see Downloadable Applications under links) and return it to at the Engineering office. Staff will do a quick investigation to make sure a requested number is not in conflict with the Emergency 911 numbering system and will notify all Town departments of the change.

How do I report a drainage problem on a town road?
To report drainage problem on your street please call 508-760-6220 or 760-6166. The reported location will go on the department’s drainage repair list for evaluation and prioritization.

What do I do about a drainage or pavement problem on a private road?
The town does not repair drainage problems or pave on private roads. However, residents of a private way that is “open to the public” can request assistance from the Engineering Office in designing a solution to the problem. The Engineering office also has applications for either the Town’s “Temporary Repairs to Private Roads” Bylaw and the “Acceptance of a private road as a town way” policy (See Downloadable Applications under links). Both applications can fund repairs to the road. The difference is that with the former the road remains privately owned and the latter it becomes a town way and all future maintenance will be the town’s responsibility Funding for construction work associated with both these applications must be approved by Town Meeting and is accessed to the abutters in the form of a betterment.

How far off the asphalt surface does the road right-of -way end?
Road right-of-way widths vary. In the early years of ‘laying out” town roads, many right-of ways were established at width of “two rods” or 33 feet (the rod was an early form of survey measurement equal to 16.5 feet).  The most common right-of way width adopted with today’s roads is 40 feet. However, depending on the road, right-of-way widths can vary up to 100 feet.  Since road pavement widths also vary from 18 ft to 31 ft, and my not be centered within the right-of-way, there is no standard answer to this question. Locating existing road or property bounds by surveying is the only correct way to determine the edge of the right-of-way. The Engineering Department does not provide this service to property owners and it is recommended that if they cannot locate existing bounds they hire a land surveyor before installing fencing, walls or other structures within the right-of-way.    

What work can I do within a Town road right-of way? In general the Town does not prohibit abutting landowners from making minor improvements to the Town right-of-way in front of their property. Planting grass, flowers, and low growing shrubs, walkways, mailboxes and sprinkler systems are considered minor improvements. However anything placed in a Town right-of-way is there at the homeowners risk. If something is damaged for any reason, including snow plowing, the responsibility for repairs is the homeowner. The placement of shrubs or trees that may grow to obstruct a driver’s sightline, signs, or any objects that pose a safety hazard to vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians, are prohibited. Significant improvements such as adding, widening or relocating a driveway, or installing utilities requires a “Road Opening Permit” (see Downloadable Applications under links)

Where can I get a copy of the plan for my property? The Engineering Department does not store plans of private property.  If a private property survey was performed the plan may have been recorded with a deed at the Barnstable Registry of Deeds. Plans showing topographic features such as structures, septic systems, driveways, etc. may be on file with the Dennis Building or Health Departments if a permit was sought in the past.

How do I report a streetlight that is not working? The Town has hired a contractor to maintain all Town owned streetlights. To report one not working, call Sieman’s Industries at 1-800-544-4876. It is helpful to know the pole I.D. number. This number is tacked to the pole about 6’ off the ground and typically it has a format of 37/22. (Example 23/7). Should have any problems with the contractor, please call the DPW Administration office at 508-760-6220.


Dennis Town Seal
Town of Dennis, Massachusetts
685 Route 134
South Dennis, MA 02660
PH: 508.394.8300    FAX: 508.394.8309
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