By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
As common interest developments with Association Governance continue to mature, homeowners are beginning to see amenities such as ponds and lakes as financial liabilities.
A New Jersey homeowners’ association is tired of maintaining the dam on their shallow pond. They are tired of paying a fortune for liability insurance for what is essentially an unusable piece of land. So they have stopped paying taxes on three parcels that include New Pond, and have offered to sell the pond and surrounding easements to the municipality of Kinnelon for $1.
Borough Council members envision using the pond for public recreation, perhaps as a fishing hole or an ice skating rink in the winter.
Although it seems like this transfer of land and related maintenance responsibilities would be a win-win situation, the Borough intends to conduct an environmental study as part of their due diligence before agreeing to take over New Pond.
If the agreement works out in this case, the Kinnelon New Pond acquisition could set a precedent, and provide similar alternatives for other Association Governed Developments (HOAs) to explore.
The borough is mulling the acquisition of three properties off South Glen Road in the vicinity of New Pond that could possibly be added to its inventory of recreation sites.
Although no decision was rendered when the matter was discussed at the April 14 Borough Council work session, it appeared the majority of the council favored taking over the three properties that are currently owned by a neighborhood homeowners’ association.
Mayor Robert Collins said he was approached a couple of years ago by the association to see if the borough would be interested in having the three properties conveyed to the municipality. Although the properties are located in a luxury home area that commands hefty priced for lots, the three lots in question are not buildable, he said.
According to Collins, the homeowners’ association wanted to convey the properties to the borough for a nominal fee of $1 dollar in order to remove themselves of the liability associated with a dam on a pond on the property known as New Pond. The association carried liability insurance on the property. There was some concern that beaver activity at the pond and if the dam breeched it would impact Lake Kinnelon, he said.
Read more at: