By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Residents of a small Virginia subdivision called Golden Hills want to know why Greene County refuses to maintain their road. David Underwood, a homeowner in Golden Hills, has been taking the lead in trying to obtain answers from County officials.
The County insists the roads in Golden Hills are private, not public, even though Golden Hills was developed in the 1990s without a mandatory homeowners’ association to fund and maintain those roads.
The article below highlights why there is controversy.
County maintains roads are private
First of all, the builder, Tom Compton, died before the road improvements were completed. Somehow, the bond money set aside to finish the project had dwindled down to almost nothing. So when Green County stepped in to “finish” the project, the road and its related drainage were never completed up to current building codes.
At that point, the County washed its hands of the situation and decided the homeowners should be responsible for maintaining their roads. The County does not remove snow or repair potholes. After a decade without adequate maintenance, the roads are in bad shape.
VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) has suggested creating a special tax district for rebuilding and future maintenance of Golden Hills roads. But Underwood points out that it would be unaffordable for a small subdivision to pay for a project that would cost more than $1 million. (Looking at Google Maps, there are perhaps 4 dozen homes in all of Golden Hills.)
Golden Hills’ story is somewhat unique, because it was never intended to have a homeowners’ association. Something apparently went wrong in the planning process.
Nevertheless, paying for road maintenance is a huge problem for tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Association-Governed Residential Communities across the US. Common Interest Developments (CIDs) with a relatively small number of households are expected to pay disproportionately high HOA special assessments – or, alternatively, taxes to newly created tax districts – to pay for rebuilding substandard roads that local governments approved in the first place.
That’s right, when most of these subdivisions were developed, there was no financial analysis of long term maintenance costs for homeowners. No one at the local or state government level bothered to crunch the numbers, or ask the question: how much should be collected in assessments in order to cover actual costs of maintaining roads and all other infrastructure and amenities?
Astonishing but true!
Why should the consumer of homes affected by poor public policy decisions now be expected to bear the full burden of repairing roads that were never designed to current construction standards in the first place?