By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Road maintenance – or lack of it – is becoming a common headache for homeowners, especially in Association Governed Communities such as HOAs.
Today’s report comes from a very small homeowners association in Mississippi. Oak Hill Estates has only 20 homes situated on two roads, Hill Drive and Corner Stone Lane. And those roads are in “lousy” shape, according to residents. The HOA President and others recently attended a meeting with Aldermen from the City of Brookhaven.
Oak Hill Estates was annexed to the city of Brookhaven in 2007. But when that happened, according to the City’s Attorney, Oak Hill Estate’s roads were not dedicated as public streets.
Homeowners are reportedly shocked to learn their roads are still privately owned by their Owners’ Association. They say this piece of information was never disclosed them before they purchased their homes.
City Attorney Joe Fernald says when Oak Hill Estates was developed, roads were to remain private, as the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) for Oak Hill Estates require 75% of property owners to vote in favor of dedication, if so desired.
Apparently the original developer relinquished control of the Association without ever taking a vote of homeowners on the matter. So Oak Hill Estates roads were never dedicated to Lincoln County.
The City of Brookhaven annexed Oak Hill Estates and other portions of the County in 2007. But Hill Drive and Corner Stone Lane were not among the list of Lincoln County roads to be dedicated for public service.
It now appears that at least 75% of owners are in favor of transferring the roads to the City, so getting the votes will be relatively easy.
BUT… here’s the challenge:
The City of Brookhaven will not take over the roads unless they are brought up to current city buidling codes.
Now the homeowners in Oak Hill Estates are on the hook for an engineering evaluation to determine the condition of the roads, whether or not they meet current City Standards (they probably do not), and what it will take to bring those roads up to current building codes that the City will accept.
Of course, homeowners are quite unhappy about this arrangement. They say they have been paying their County and City property taxes for years, and the roads have been maintained and repaired for other property owners. Why won’t the City fix their roads, too?
Ah, Oak Hill Estates HOA members are now keenly aware of double taxation!
The same general circumstance exists in thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Association Governed common interest communities all over the U.S.
The burden of repairing subdivision roads is shifted from both the developer and the City (or County) government onto a relatively small group of property owners with very limited financial resources.
And yet there’s been no property tax discount to offset this extra and significant liability for owners governed by HOAs.
Here’s my pet peeve: the planning commission of the local government, be it City or County – actually approved original construction of the roads at the time of construction. Why wasn’t the developer required to build roads to City Code at that time? Why are builders of planned communities permitted to build roads that are too narrow and too thin to meet City building codes?
Shouldn’t the parties who created this mess pay to clean it up?
Oak Hill Estates subdivision residents confront aldermen in a work session
Published 7:10pm Saturday, December 17, 2016
Little progress was made this past week when a group of angry homeowners came before the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen at a called work session to discuss the lousy condition of their roads.
All of the approximately 20 families who live in Oak Hill Estates were represented in the work session, which was called to discuss the ownership of the roads in the subdivision and the lack of city water and lines.
All seven aldermen except for Ward 4 Alderman Shirley Estes, who represents the citizens of Oak Hill Estates, were present for the meeting. Ward 6 Alderman David Phillips removed himself from the work session prior to its start because his brother and business partner lives in Oak Hill.
Mayor Joe Cox said the meeting was called at the request of Kevin Laird, president of Oak Hill Estates’ homeowners’ association, so he and other homeowners could meet with the board concerning the paving and dedication of the roads and the installation of water lines in the subdivision.”