05/27/10 — No firm rules yet on street care fix

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No firm rules yet on street care fix

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

Three meetings have failed to produce a clear solution to preventing subdivision streets from deteriorating to the point they will not be accepted into the state road system.

However, the meetings of the county Planning Board committee have generated three options that will first be presented to the board at its June 8 meeting. It will be up to the Planning Board to formulate a recommendation for county commissioners.

Those options, floated at the committee's Wednesday night meeting, include mandating homeowners associations for subdivisions that require new streets; a surety bond that would set aside money for the streets; or hanging development permits on N.C. Department of Transportation acceptance of streets.

Any changes to the county's subdivision rules would require a public hearing and commissioners' approval before they could be implemented.

County ordinances require that subdivisions with at least four houses have streets built to DOT standards. However, it does not require a street to be accepted by DOT for maintenance and streets that aren't taken over by the state often begin to deteriorate since there is no clear requirement as to who is supposed to pay for the maintenance.

The Planning Board appointed the committee at the prompting of commissioners who have talked about deteriorating subdivision streets for several months.

Holding up issuance of development permits was first broached months ago by County Planner Connie Price at a Planning Board meeting.

The recommendation is:

* 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 DOT for maintenance and acceptance of the subject street into the state-maintained road network.

* Once those requirements are met, additional development permits will be released until 75 percent of the development permits for lots along the subject road have been released. Once this threshold has been met, no additional development permits will be released for lots on that street until the DOT district engineer has accepted the subject road into the state-maintained road network.

However, a problem could arise if someone were to buy a lot with plans to build later. If the developer has reached the threshold where no more homes can be built, then he would not be able to build.

Price told committee members at Wednesday's meeting he had been unable to come up with a workable solution to that issue.

The surety bond was discussed at the committee's last meeting. However, there were concerns that problems could arise if a limited liability corporation (LLC) group were to develop a subdivision then dissolve.

Price said Wednesday that even with a LLC, a developer would still have to sign and be responsible for the surety bond.

Committee members appeared hesitant about a surety bond that would be managed by the county since it would make the county responsible for the work.

"How many owner/developers are going to be willing to let that money go?" DOT representative Chris Overman said.

Price's recommendation would require the owner to pay for subdivision improvements and deposit the surety bond with the county. If needed, those funds could be utilized for street maintenance until the streets are taken over by the state.

In the case of a housing association, the bond would be deposited in the name of that organization, lifting the burden off of the county. It would be spelled out in the county ordinance what the bond would be used for, county attorney Borden Parker said.