Private neighborhood roads across the nation are in desperate need of repair. Residents seek help from local governments.
An infrastructure maintenance crisis is underway in association-governed communities across the U.S.
Private subdivision roads are in poor condition. Some are downright unsafe.
Decades of fast and cheap road construction saddled thousands of homeowners with narrow, substandard roads, as well as awkward traffic plans that create daily commuting headaches.
The following examples illustrate the need for local governments to provide public administration and assistance to cash-strapped, volunteer-led association-governed communities. It’s time to bring subdivision roads up to higher safety standards, and create out-of-the-HOA-box solutions to fund ongoing maintenance.
Road woes: Country Manor subdivision seeks to dedicate private infrastructure to Logan (UT)
By Sean Dolan staff writer, March 9, 2018
The homeowners association of a 51-home subdivision just south of U.S. Highway 89 in Logan has asked the city to take over ownership of its private infrastructure, as they do not have adequate reserve funding to replace underground water pipes that do not meet state standards.
According to a memo from former Logan Public Works Director Mark Nielsen, some of the subdivision’s water pipes are 6 inches in diameter, but the state requires 8-inch pipes. He also wrote that some parts of the subdivision do not have curb, gutters and sidewalks, which does not meet Logan’s standards. In addition, he wrote that the asphalt cross-section does not meet city standards, and the poor drainage will lead to further deterioration.
The Logan Municipal Council first discussed accepting the private infrastructure at their Feb. 20 meeting. The council members asked Nielsen for a rough estimate of how much it would cost to make the necessary infrastructure replacements. At the Municipal Council’s meeting Tuesday, Nielsen presented an order-of-magnitude estimate. He said it could cost somewhere around $310,000 to build the sidewalk, curb, gutter and pavement.
The Country Manor subdivision has a complicated history. In 2011, Logan purchased 17 lots in the neighborhood to construct a flood levee.
As usual, a city council member objects to taking over private roads. However, city council originally approved each and every development with private roads.
At the time, the city could have required an economic feasibility study, and could have required the community to establish and maintain an adequate reserve fund. The City could have required public dedication of the roads. The City could have required that roads and water utility pipes meet current building codes. But, at the time of construction, they didn’t make any of those requirements.
And now, when the homeowners realize they don’t have the expertise or the funds to take on a major infrastructure project, the City seems poised to turn its back on taxpaying constituents.
There might be an exception made in this case, but only because the city took 17 homes in 2011 for a flood control project, reducing the number of assessment-paying lots from 68 to 51.
Another HOA wants county to take over private road (ID)
Also, is it time to lengthen airport runway
By CHUCK CHESNEY Citizen correspondent Feb 27, 2018 Updated Feb 27, 2018
In one of the shortest Franklin County Commissioners meetings in recent memory, the Feb. 26 meeting got underway with just three action items on the agenda.
The start of the agenda was a prolonged discussion with members of the Cub River Ranches Home Owners Association. The HOA members who were present were Steve Anderson, Laura Facer, and Tiffany Cardall. The homeowners pointed out that on the private loop-road that services the subdivision that there are currently 33 residential dwellings, with a total of 44 building lots available. The HOA was asking for Franklin County to take over the road and to pave or chip seal its three-mile length.
Rural Counties have approved thousands of small single family home communities over the past few decades. This example from Idaho is typical — many years after the onset of construction in the small subdivision, vacant lots remain. Roads are beginning to break down, but a few dozen homeowners are expected to pay for costly repairs.
What about all the property tax homeowners have paid to the County over the years? None of that money has been set aside for maintenance of private roads in HOAs. Instead, tax dollars have been used to maintain other public roads in the County.
If the County reluctantly agrees to provide the labor for a temporary chip and seal job, it will cost the HOA $180,000 for a 3-mile long private road. (Costs would undoubtedly be even higher if the HOA tried to hire a private contractor.)
If the HOA lacks sufficient reserves, each parcel owner will have to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, or, if the Association qualifies, homeowners will be stuck paying back a loan.
Unless the County agrees to take on future maintenance of their road, the HOA will have to increase assessments to start saving up for the inevitable complete resurfacing work that will be needed 2-4 years from now.
For more information on chip-and-seal, see this article on Bituminous Surface Treatments (BSTs).
A County commissioner admits that quite a few HOAs have approached their local government to provide road maintenance. This is a problem that isn’t going away, and, if the County wants to maintain property values for its taxpayers, it will have to create public options to fund and maintain safe roads.
It’s a private road many commuters grudgingly use. Lancaster County may have a remedy. (NC)
BY JOHN MARKS
February 27, 2018 08:46 PM
Updated 1 hour 11 minutes ago
The plan isn’t there yet, but Lancaster County is working toward a solution that could keep hundreds of residents from losing access to the road out of their neighborhood.
And, to keep commuters going on their way.
“We recognize that it’s a major commuter road,” Lancaster County Councilman Brian Carnes, who represents Indian Land, said of Regent Parkway.
Read more here (Video):
Here we have an example of poor planning and decision making that began in the pre-construction phase. The County approved narrow, substandard “private” roads to be built by developers. But now thousands of vehicles use several of these roads as more direct commuting routes to and from their homes every day. But “private” roads were not designed to handle such heavy traffic.
At least one developer has agreed to give up a portion of a private road to the County. But the County doesn’t want the road until it’s brought up to higher standards — the road would have to be made wider and thicker, at a minimum. The developer doesn’t want to invest any more money in the road, and neither does the County, so there’s a legal impasse. In the meantime, residents in the area will continue to deal with traffic clogged, crumbling arterial roads.
Bentwood Estate homeowners seek remediation (WV)
Jan. 28, 2018
MARTINSBURG — Residents of Bentwood Estates in Inwood have asked the Berkeley County Commission for help in their attempt to get the the community’s developer to finish off the main road through the development and provide a secondary entrance to the complex.
Serving as spokesman for the Bentwood Estates Homeowners Association, Richard Lindvig appeared before the Berkeley County Planning Commission on Jan. 16 to ask the commission to write the group a letter of support in his dispute with housing developer Phil Cogar.
According to Lindvig, developer Cogar is obligated to finish off all portions of the development’s main roadway, Bentwood Drive, and construct a secondary outlet from the community.
Cogar could not be reached for comment.
Bentwood Estates is located on W.Va. 51 in the Inwood section of Berkeley County.
“I’ve been there 11 years now, and nothing has been done,” Lindvig said. “The community is basically getting tired of it. They want the community finished.”
Lindvig said the developer has yet to apply a final topcoat on the main road, which he claims is now deteriorating in some places.
In this West Virginia subdivision with 133 homes, poor planning on the part of County officials, and an unaccountable developer, have left homeowners with narrow, dangerous, unfinished roads and without a second exit from the community.
Once again, a County government allows a developer to build a narrow road, and leave it unfinished for more than a decade. The road takes a beating from construction vehicles. For homeowners, it appears there’s no end in sight.
And because the County permitted the developer to build a 50-foot wide road instead of a 60-foot wide road, the subdivision’s road might be declared a private road, with ongoing maintenance to be dumped on homeowners. Or the homeowners might pressure their elected officials to take responsibility for a road construction and maintenance problem that local government essentially created.
Horry County neighborhood seeks to fix ‘severe road issues’ (SC)
Friday, January 19th 2018, 7:34 pm EST
Friday, January 19th 2018, 7:51 pm EST
By Erin Edwards, Reporter
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – An Horry County community is working to fix what they’re calling severe road issues.
Community members in Deerfield say roads in the area have been torn up for a while, but the problem worsened after the January ice storm.
“It froze, it thawed, everything started buckling up on one end and the other end. It’s just, it’s a mess,” Butch Buzby said. “You look at the driveways, you look at the street, the dirt just keeps coming up. It’s bad and it needs to be taken care of.”
The road is privately owned, but Buzby said it’s up to the POA to keep up with maintenance.
Read more (Video):
Another common casualty of the last financial crisis: bankrupt developers and their unfinished community infrastructure. In this South Carolina subdivision, the developer abandoned their community’s road in 2007. Therefore, it was never officially transferred road to Horry County.
The POA is physically and financially unable to maintain it. Pothole patching is no longer sufficient after more than a decade of wear and tear.
Besides, recent studies have proven that outsourcing pothole patching to private contractors costs much more than assigning the work to local government employees. ( See Who Should Fix the Potholes?
Sometimes it saves money to outsource government work. But don’t assume that.)
Ownership of the road remains in limbo.