By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Sander’s Pond (MI) homeowners recently found out they might have to pay for construction of a $975,000 road, and they’re not happy about it.
The developer of Sander’s pond, RBF Construction, has been discussing the addition of a second road leading into Sander’s Pond from Linden Road. Members of the Sander’s Pond Homeowners Association objected to the project at a hearing in Mundy Township earlier this month.
As proposed, the road would be paid for through the establishment of a Special Assessment District. That means 101 existing homeowners would be expected to pay an additional property tax on their homes for the next 20 years.
Why build a new road?
Mundy Township’s Supervisors say that Sander’s Point would benefit from more than one paved access road to its subdivision.
But there’s more to the story, because RBF would also like to subdivide its two parcels, and build 14 new condos.
Naturally, homeowners don’t think it’s fair that they would have to pay nearly $1 million (about $9,700 per property, on average) for a road that primarily benefits the developer. And, besides, homeowners object to a second access road, since it would probably increase traffic in their subdivision.
After hearing from homeowners, Township officials told a 25News reporter that, if the majority of homeowners are not in favor of the project, the road won’t be built.
But I suspect this isn’t the end of the story.
Response from Developer
The most interesting part of this report is a response letter from the developer, RBF Construction, posted on the 25News website. (See link below)
In that letter, we discover the following from RBF:
- RBF has been low bidder for several previous township road projects
- Former Township Supervisor, David Guigear, approached RBF about adding a second access road to Sander’s Point
- The land parcel used to build the road is already approved for 14 condos, allowing RBF to provide a relatively low bid for road construction
- Under these circumstances, there won’t be a public bid for the road project
- Mundy Township could “force its hand and take land by eminent domain”
- RBF is a family-owned business, and two additional family members are on the board of Mundy Township
- One of the parcels needed to construct the controversial road is owned by an extended family member of the developer
Given the level of nepotism, and the tax assessment involved, it’s understandable that the Sander’s Point HOA and its homeowner members don’t want a second access road to their subdivision.
Who should pay for a new road?
Mundy Township’s population is less than 15,000. It’s not unusual for small towns to work with a handful of contractors on municipal projects. And, in defense of RBF, in small towns, it’s sometimes hard to completely avoid taking bids and awarding contracts to family and business associates.
In this case, however, it seems out of line to expect Sander’s Point homeowners to subsidize construction costs for either RBF Construction or Mundy Township.
After all, it’s doubtful that homeowners will see any real return on their so-called “investment” in a secondary access road. And if the developer cannot make a decent profit selling 14 new homes, then perhaps it’s not a worthwhile project for RBF.
If Mundy Township officials truly believe that an emergency access road is in the best interests of public safety, then its construction cost should be borne by all taxpayers, not just the homeowners of Sander’s Point.
When they bought their homes in the subdivision, I doubt that homeowners imagined they’d have to kick in thousands of extra dollars to build an additional road leading into their community.
So why should they be roped into paying for a new road now? ♦
25News,by Alysia Burgio |