Unaccepted Streets

What is an Unaccepted Street?  

Unaccepted streets are streets which were built prior to April 4, 1948 (the adoption of Subdivision Control Law) and were not accepted by the Town due to not meeting the Town's design standards. Unaccepted streets are deemed as private roads, and therefore the Town cannot expend public funds to make substantial improvements on these streets. Although, most public services are still available for those who live on unaccepted streets (see list below). 


What services are provided by the Town on unaccepted streets?

  • Trash Collection
  • Emergency/Fire Services
  • Snow Plowing
  • Pothole and minor crack repair that are deemed a hazard for public safety vehicles by the Director of Public Works.

What services are not provided by the Town on unaccepted streets? 

  • Extensive roadway repairs, including roadway repaving or reconstruction

How do I know if I live on an unaccepted street?

If the Town isn't responsible for extensive roadway repairs, how can my street be repaired?

Property owners on unaccepted streets have a few options to improve their road;

  1. Direct abutters of unaccepted roads usually have legal rights to repair the roadway, and may facilitate repairs on the roadway independently from the Town. 
  2. For more extensive repairs, abutters may petition to the Select Board to facilitate repairs on their unaccepted street, if they have signatures from at least 51% of direct abutters to the unaccepted street. With this method linked here. With this method;
    1. All abutters (even those who did not sign the petition) are responsible for splitting the cost of roadway repairs; and 
    2. the petitioning abutters are responsible for creating a roadway layout and profile plan, requirements for which are listed in Chapter 176-5.2(5), detailing the roadway improvements needed, for Lexington Engineering and the Select Board to review; and 
    3. The DPW would facilitate the repairs, payed for by the abutters. 

How can my street become accepted by the Town?

In order for an unaccepted street to become accepted by the Town, abutters must demonstrate that the current roadway meets the Town's standards. Some roads are already in the correct condition, while others may need improvements to get there. 

  1. A roadway layout and profile plan, requirements for which are listed in Chapter 176-5.2(5), must be submitted to the Select Board and reviewed by Engineering and DPW to confirm that the roadway is currently, or will be up to Town standards after some improvements. Additional materials may be required. 
  2. The Town should be granted easements to use the roadway for public access, and for rights reasonably necessary for sloping, sidewalks, or drainage that may be located outside the paved portion of the street. All easements should be reviewed and approved by Town Council. The Applicant shall present the plans and easements during an open Select Board meeting. 
  3. The abutters must submit an article for the Town Meeting warrant, and if Town Meeting votes to accept the road, then the easements must be recorded with the Registry of Deeds within 120 days of Town Meeting. 

Please contact the Planning Office for additional details. 

I'm applying for a building permit and my lot uses an unaccepted street for vehicular access. Do I need approval from the Planning Board?


Please Note: As of June 7, 2023, the Planning Board has adopted new regulations for unaccepted streets and street adequacy determinations. Under the new regulations, the following projects will trigger the requirement for a street adequacy determination with the Planning Board;

  1. A new dwelling is added to a vacant lot that uses an unaccepted street for vehicular access; or
  2. A new dwelling on a lot created through an Approval Not Required, Definitive Subdivision, Special Residential Development, or Open Space Residential Development, that uses an unaccepted street for vehicular access; or 
  3. A dwelling unit is added to a lot with existing dwelling(s), that is not an accessory dwelling unit, and that uses an unaccepted street for vehicular access; or
  4. A change in use of a lot which uses an unaccepted street for vehicular access. 

A previous trigger for SAD projects will no longer apply: "Additions to, or replacement of, an existing dwelling that increases the gross floor area on the lot by more than 1,000 square feet." But projects meeting this criteria will still; 

  1. Be responsible for any roadway damage caused by construction vehicles; and 
  2. Must contact the Planning Office to request a pre-application meeting; and
  3. Must issue a performance guarantee to the Planning Board for potential roadway damage caused by construction vehicles. 

If your project meets the criteria for a Street Adequacy Determination or if your project adds more than 1,000 square feet of Gross Floor Area onto a lot which uses an unaccepted street for access, please contact the Planning Office to arrange a site visit or to learn more about the process. 

Street Adequacy Determination Application 

  1. Planning Office

    Physical Address
    1625 Massachusetts Avenue
    Lexington, MA 02420


    Hours of Operation:

    Monday / Wednesday / Thursday:
    8:30 am to 4:30 pm

    8:30 am to 7 pm

    8:30 am to 1 pm