By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
The industry that builds, sells, and services association-governed common interest communities is fond of stating that these communities are an “institution” that is “here to stay.” And, in fact, the industry, and many local governments, have intentionally set the HOA trap for decades, with complicated statutes and land use policies. (More on this topic in future blogs.)
But not everyone is buying into the industry’s unsupportable claims that they save taxpayers money and protect and enhance property values.
While many municipal and county governments continue the force feeding of homeowners associations (HOAs), an interesting trend is developing in some areas of the U.S. Homeowners are approaching their local governments seeking annexation.
The reasons that association-governed common interest communities seek annexation are to gain access to municipal services:
- maintenance and resurfacing of roadways
- access to public water supply and sewage treatment facilities
- municipal waste removal and recycling pick up services
- services of public police, fire, and emergency response teams
- maintenance of green spaces and parkways
- resolution of chronic stormwater management problems
- Compared to the HOA, lower service costs or increased service levels, or both
In return, municipalities can benefit in several ways:
- increased property tax base, with higher property values
- expansion of city borders and services, often resulting in economies of scale
- creation of a larger sphere of economic and political influence
As I become aware of communities shifting away from privatization of services, back to the public realm, I will share examples with readers. I have already highlighted several cases in previous blogs.
In other cases, older HOAs have become defunct, with expired covenants, or inactive status. For these communities, services will inevitably shift back to the public sector.
Here is another example in South Charleston, West Virginia. The Ridges HOA is a subdivision of roughly 250 homes. Members currently pay about $800 annually in HOA assessments. South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens expects that, following annexation, property tax increases will be around $800 – a wash – but provide residents with additional, and better quality services.
Reportedly, homeowners are in favor of annexation and, in fact, approached the city a year ago requesting to be included as official citizens of South Charleston.
South Charleston City Council passes The Ridges annexation on first reading
POSTED BY ALEXANDER THOMAS ON APRIL 24, 2017 IN LOCAL NEWS
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The South Charleston City Council passed Thursday a first reading of the ordinance to annex The Ridges neighborhood into the city.
Residents of the area submitted a petition at the council’s April 10 meeting to be considered for annexation.
South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said the neighborhood first asked about becoming part of the city in 2008.
“I haven’t shied away from this topic,” he said. “I have a vision to extend South Charleston all the way to the Lincoln County line.”
The annexation will cost the city $310,000 in expanding services and utilities, according to city projections. The city is expected to bring in more than $673,000 in tax revenue.
Proposed annexation could help continued South Charleston growth
Max Garland , Staff writer
South Charleston has been picking up the pace recently in its economic development and expansion plans.
Mayor Frank Mullens said he is looking to attract more business and improvement projects to the area with the city’s proposed tax-increment financing district moving closer to reality and the planned expansion of the West Virginia Regional Technology Park.
More recently, the city is considering annexing a subdivision just a few miles from the Kanawha County-Lincoln County line to contribute to its growth.
The South Charleston City Council approved in its meeting Thursday the first reading of an annexation proposal by The Ridges, a subdivision about five miles south of the Southridge Center off of Corridor G.
The request by The Ridges, a gated community that began development in 2006, didn’t come out of the blue. According to Jess Bailes, a member of The Ridges Homeowners Association, the subdivision has been asking to join the city for the past year.
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