04/27/10 — Planning Board will eye road rules

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Planning Board will eye road rules

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 27, 2010 1:46 PM

A Wayne County Planning Board committee will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. to begin a review of how future subdivision roads will be maintained.

The meeting will be in the Planning Department offices on the third floor of the Jeffreys Building, 134 N. John St.

The committee is made up of Planning Board members Charlie Holloway, Mike Aycock and David Quick, Department of Transportation official Chris Overman, surveyor Bobby Rex Kornegay and developer and former Planning Board member Wayne Aycock.

Deteriorating subdivision streets and who is responsible for their upkeep have been two of the more frequent questions county commissioners have asked since they assumed final approval of subdivision plats last year.

Commissioners have questioned why the streets aren't being properly maintained and have said homeowners need protection.

On the flip side are concerns that placing additional financial requirements on developers could lead to higher home costs.

Wednesday night's meeting is an outgrowth of the Planning Board's April meeting. At their April 20 session, commissioners once again questioned Planning Director Connie Price on the status of the street review.

The county is particularly interested in ensuring that future subdivision streets are folded into the state road system as quickly as possible for upkeep and maintenance.

"It is what to do for the future -- how to get streets from here on out onto the state system," Price said.

The time has passed for existing streets, he said. It is up to the developer and/or property owners to "get them done," since the county lacks the authority to force the issue.

A second subdivision issue, off-site drainage systems, is waiting in the wings. No committee has yet been appointed to address that issue.

Environmental Health requires septic tanks for all structures that have inside water but lack access to a sewer system. The septic tanks normally are located near the structures. However, there are times when that is not possible because of soil types, water table, lot size or nearby wells.

In those cases, the system must be placed elsewhere. The county lacks any rules regulating ownership, location or maintenance of off-site drainage fields.

While the county subdivision ordinance requires streets with four or more lots to be built to DOT standards, it does not require a developer to pursue having it accepted by DOT for maintenance.

Price has said developers will often maintain the street until the lots are sold. However, once that happens, the motivation to maintain the street is gone, he said.

If a developer fails to follow through with applying to the state to take over maintenance of the roads, the street begins to deteriorate before being accepted by the DOT.

Price has floated two recommendations for possible ways to require the developer to have the streets accepted by the state:

* Once a subdivision has a minimum of four occupied homes and an average of two occupied homes per tenth of a mile, no additional development permits will be released for lots on that street until the developer or related agent petitions the N.C. Department of Transportation for maintenance and acceptance of the subject street into the state-maintained road network.

* Once the first requirement is met, additional development permits will be released until 75 percent of those permits for lots along the subject road have been sold. Once this threshold has been met, no additional development permits will be released for lots on that street until the N.C. Department of Transportation district engineer has accepted the subject road into the state-maintained road network.

The Planning Board took no action on those recommendations at its April meeting, but its members agreed that some mechanism is needed to protect home buyers who invest in a house only to end up with potholed streets that damage their vehicles.

Wayne Aycock told the board at the April meeting that the state is broke and cannot afford the streets that it has, much less take on new ones.