How will local government deal with epidemic of crumbling private roads?

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Local governments must work on solutions to repair crumbling private roads, because most homeowners don’t have the equipment, expertise, or money to maintain them.

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Private roads are a burden for many homeowners associations (HOAs). But the problem is even more acute for subdivisions where no HOA exists.

 

Ohio: homeowners can’t get in or out of their subdivision after road washed out in a flood

Owners of 32 homes in the Pine Valley Subdivision of Sterling Township, Ohio, asked Brown County officials to help them repair the private road that leads to their homes. A flood of Pine Valley Drive on February 6 washed out the bridge over a storm water culvert. That left behind a 5 foot deep hole that’s impossible to drive over and dangerous to drive around.

Brown County Officials held an emergency meeting on the matter on February 7, but, upon advice of town counsel, voted not to make repairs to Pine Valley Drive. Read the meeting minutes here.

It’s another case of homeowners stuck with an ‘orphan’ private road. Neither the county nor the township accepted the road for public maintenance.

Now Brown County expects owners to fix the road themselves, even though a homeowners association was never formed to collect money for maintenance and repair.

Pine Valley homeowners pay property and fuel taxes, just like other Brown County residents. Presumably, county commissioners approved construction and occupancy permits for all 32 homes in Pine Valley. In essence, local government enabled the construction of a private road, with no workable maintenance plan.

According to a report on Fox 19, the minimum cost to repair the damaged road is $50,000. Divided among 32 properties, that’s about $1562 per homeowner. An internet search for recent home sales in the area reveals home values of less than $100,000.

In the interest of public safety, Brown County will need to consider public options to finance repairs and assume responsibility for Pine Valley Drive.

Rain washes away private road in Sterling Township, dozens stranded without funds for fix

Amber Jayanth, Fox19 Published 3:30 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2019

Recent rainfall has washed away a bridge that sits over a culvert in Sterling Township, leaving dozens trapped in their homes.

Read more (video):
Rain washes away private road in Sterling Township, dozens stranded without funds for fix

 

Missouri: homeowners can’t dodge the potholes on their private road

In Jefferson County, Missouri, owners of mobile homes have a similar problem with pothole-ridden Ruth Drive. The road hasn’t been properly maintained for decades. Emergency responders say it takes nearly 5 minutes to drive over the cratered road.

That kind of hazard is a matter of public safety.

But Ruth Dr. is a private road. The county does not maintain the road, and homeowners don’t have an official HOA to collect money for road repairs. Homeowners also argue that, as taxpayers contributing to other roads in Jefferson County, their community needs a safe road, too.

But Jefferson County won’t take on public maintenance of Ruth Drive unless and until the road is repaired up to minimum safety standards.

However, County Council member Jim Terry tells Fox2Now that he’s proposing the County enter into a limited maintenance agreement with homeowners. That way, they can use their public works expertise and heavy equipment to bring Ruth Drive up to acceptable standards. At that point, Jefferson County would reconsider making Ruth Drive a pubic road.

According to Terry, Jefferson County has more than 1,000 miles of private roads. So far, the county accepted only 28 miles of roads for public maintenance, with an annual budget of $1.25 million.

It looks like Jefferson County Council will need to come up with a long-term plan to pay for many more miles of private roads. Their challenge: to solve an unworkable system of private subdivision road maintenance, created by their predecessors decades ago.

Jefferson County residents concerned over dangerous potholed road

POSTED 10:33 PM, FEBRUARY 6, 2019, BY CHRIS REGNIER, UPDATED AT 06:17PM, FEBRUARY 6, 2019

JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO – Jefferson County residents are having to maneuver their way around dozens of deep potholes on the main road in and out of their community near House Springs.

The road is called Ruth Drive, it`s a private road and authorities say it`s putting people`s safety at risk.

Read more (video):

Jefferson County residents concerned over dangerous potholed road