By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
This report from Clay Township, Pennsylvania, is enough to make any taxpaying homeowner’s blood boil.
Imagine if you were told at the time of purchase that your duplex home in a relatively small subdivision of 92 homes was not subject to the requirements of a homeowners association (HOA), only to find out several years later that there must be an active HOA before the township will assume maintenance of your roads.
Oh, and, by the way, you will now have to set aside money in HOA assessments to insure and maintain a storm water basin that has a history of developing sinkholes.
And those sidewalks that the developer installed, and the Township helped to repair 3 or 4 years ago may not be ADA compliant.
What’s that you say? The developer has never activated the supposedly required HOA with an annual fee of $78 per household? You’ve never had to pay HOA dues since the creation of your subdivision in the early 2000s?
Too bad, say Clay Township supervisors. Those are matters between Wildflower Ponds homeowners and the developer.
Never mind that the Township dropped the ball by not requiring ADA compliance on the sidewalks in the first place.
The Township doesn’t care, because homeowners implied that they “agreed” to the terms of the governing documents when they took title to their homes. And, no, Clay Township does not play a role in review of approval of “ByLaws” or, presumably, restrictive covenants. Really, just about any obligation the developer wants to create for property owners is A-OK with Clay Township.
Well, in all fairness, this is a typical arrangement for the creation of Association Governed Housing nationwide. Your local government might require the developer to add legal provisions concerning their legal duties and liabilities, and quite often maintenance of portions of infrastructure such as storm water basins is deferred to homeowners.
Yes, homeowners generally pay property taxes at the same rate as property owners who are not member of HOAs. But that doesn’t mean the municipality or County will actually assume financial responsibility for maintaining storm water structures in your subdivision, and there’s no guarantee they’ll resurface your roads when the need arises.
All of those details are buried somewhere in the legal fine print of those HOA documents — the ones you may or may not have seen at the time of purchase.
Concerns over sidewalks at Wildflower Pond
Marylouise Sholly, June 21, 2016
What if a federal investigator comes in and says you have to re-do those sidewalks?” asked Wildflower Pond resident David Martin.
Supervisor Gary Landis said ADA compliance is a matter to be addressed between the developer and the homeowners.
“Did you give the developer a letter saying the sidewalks are all right, that they’re acceptable by the township?” Wildflower Pond resident Rich Bernarduci asked Bob Lynn, the township’s engineer.
Lynn replied that he did not.
Everybody is “scared to death” about the liability that could come with the sidewalks if someone is injured, Bernarduci said.
Issues with the development have risen recently because the developer, Dr. C. Busco, wants to turn over more responsibility of the development to the HOA, and elect a board of governors to run the organization.
Martin said he feels it’s time to consult the district attorney with concerns about the development.
“Why has the development paid over 10 years of taxes to you without any services from the township?” Martin asked. “That’s taxation without representation.”
Mejia tried to address Martin’s concerns.
“In terms of by-laws for the organization, that’s an issue between the developer and the homeowners’ association,” Mejia said. “The township is in a difficult position; we don’t negotiate or write by-laws between developers and homeowners.”
Read more here: