HOA’s “lousy” roads are doubly taxing (MS)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Cracked road Pothole

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.

Homeowners object

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.”

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3 Replies to “HOA’s “lousy” roads are doubly taxing (MS)”

  1. Things aren’t as easy as they appear once you start digging. I will tell you what we have done about a similar situation, and how we found out what was causing damage to our roads, and how I got the county to pay for it.

    For years, the boards had been making repairs of waterlines, installing French drains, patching and repaving roads, only for it to be a vicious cycle. They would not listen to some of us that said not to do that and to require the county to consider what is going on with the water lines. The county kept blaming springs, but we don’t have scientific proof we have springs and not runoff from county property. When the county did come in and replace large leaks and patch, their heavy equipment was on the soft ground and road beds and caused more damage.

    Our roads were originally NOT dedicated to our county when the developer filed the plats for approval by the county. If our roads met the current standards of roads AND street/home layout currently required by the county, we would have a possibility of dedicating the roads to the county and for them to accept. The answer is NO, it has been 46 years since the plat was filed, and we cannot move buildings obviously, or re-design streets. Also, our access street to the county road is not in the official definitions and requirements for right-of-way, so it won’t be considered.

    On top of all of that, despite issues we have that should require a re-plat – which we cannot afford the entire process – the county has said because we are on a wetlands/mitigation bank now – the golf course converted a few years ago – we cannot ever do this. Too much red tape, and we would have to redesign and configure more things that are impossible.

    After countless thousands of dollars, the newer board said no. We wrote a letter to our county supervisor and told him the situation, and that we were a small HOA, and we could not continue this cycle. We requested the county prove to us what was causing all the leaks, and that they aren’t their problems. The supervisor forwarded it on to the public utilities director and within one month we got answers. The water leaks were the county’s and they had sufficient proof it had gone on for years, and our pipes needed to be replaced. The county’s waterlines were entirely underneath our roads!!! He promised the design process would begin and they would keep in touch. I asked him if they would repave, and he said yes, but not stripe.

    It took a year for the entire design, surveying, platting process by the county, and the award for the bid was approved this month by the supervisors. The entire project, awarded bid, design phase by contracted engineers, purchase of pipes by the county and so forth will cost right at $500K. Our expense is striping. The county is entirely installing a new modern water distribution system in here. I negotiated with them, and they will have to replace a lot of things that we were supposed to pay for in our capital expenses. I had them include provisions and a contract on paving not only the “roads” but the entire paved surfaces and a lot of other details. They are required to do that in the future for their repairs etc. The final stage requires paved surfaces to be milled and paved to state standards. An engineer told me if I hadn’t requested the paved surfaces to be entirely replaced, the county would have just done the road, not the other surfaces.

    My suggestion is dig for information, ask the right people the right questions in a polite and thankful way. You might get more than you expect. I negotiated and negotiated and they ended up giving me almost all I negotiated, but more on other things.

    1. Lyn, thank you for your detailed explanation. Glad things worked out for you and your neighbors.
      FYI, in many parts of the courntry water and/or sanitary sewer services are provided by private companies, not a public supplier. That creates even more complications!

  2. Wow, that is a GREAT column!!!

    Thanks, Debbie!!!

    Sara –

    On Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 10:39 AM, Independent American Communities wrote:

    > deborahgoonan posted: “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 asso” >

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