02/12/17 — Board declines to change road policy

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Board declines to change road policy

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 12, 2017 1:45 AM

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning declined to consider changes to the county's subdivision street repair policy.

The first project under that policy is about to get underway, and commissioners said they need to see how it turns out before looking at any policy revision.

The policy approved last year by the board provides $2.5 million every two years for subdivision street repairs. Property owners in the subdivision repay the cost through a special property assessment.

Residents in Canterbury Village and North Creek subdivisions were the first to submit a valid petition seeking street improvements.

The cost to make the repairs is estimated at $2.2 million.

County Manager George Wood told commissioners bids would go out in late March and would be awarded in April.

Commissioner Ray Mayo suggested the policy change after asking about the Lane Tree subdivision petition.

The petition has been turned in, but under the current rules nothing can be done with it since the policy limits the county to $2.5 million for such projects every two years, Wood said

"I would like to ask the board to consider the possibility of changing that policy just for Lane Tree for this reason -- Lane Tree is contiguous to North Creek," Mayo said.

Mayo said he was concerned that Lane Tree residents might have to start all over on their petition because property may have changed hands since it was turned in.

Commissioner Ed Cromartie asked Wood if the county had received other petitions.

"We have them in order," Wood said. "We are following the policy. The policy you agreed to was just what Mr. Mayo said, $2.5 million."

The engineer's estimate for Canterbury Village and North Creek subdivisions is $2.2 million, but that could change, he said.

Cromartie said he knew Wood would take care of the dollars and just wanted to make sure the county did not change the rules that may affect a subdivision that has already qualified.

"Lane Tree got one in first," Wood said. "We have one or two more that I think are in, or they are working on. We will take them in whatever order they bring them in. But it brings up an issue for us, and (County Attorney) Borden (Parker), and I ran into this with Canterbury, and Ray just eluded to it.

"If you check it out now, and they have 75 percent, if you are not going to go forward for two years, you are going to have to go back and recheck it at that point because over two years of time you are going to have sales. You are going to have divorces, deaths. You are going to have a number of changes."

Also, residents have the right to decide if they want to remain on the petition, he said.

The law says the current owner, as the tax record shows, must sign the petition, Wood said.

Initially, Canterbury Village and North Creek subdivisions had valid petitions, but some people dropped off. The county gave the subdivisions 30 days to work on getting enough signatures to proceed.

"It kind of puts us in a difficult situation," Wood said. "We have taken the approach there is no need to go forward with it until such time as you can act upon it. If you can't act upon it for two more years there is really no need to go forward certifying whether the petition is valid or not."

Cromartie said that was what he was getting at and leaving the policy as is.

"If your numbers don't reflect 75 percent, then that means you lose your place in line, but it gives the other people who may have maintained their 75 percent an opportunity to be considered," he said.

That is correct, but at the moment the county does not know if any money is going to be available until two years from now, Wood said.

The $2.2 million will use up most of the $2.5 million in the policy, he said.

Wood said he does not know of any of the projects that would be less than $300,000.

"My suggestion is that we should wait until we get this thing out for bid because it is our first one, and we don't know how close it is," Wood said. "Let's find out what we've got. The other thing I would remind you all, this is not like you are constructing a brand new road.

"When you are doing repairs like this he has done an estimation. For instance, he may say the first 70 feet need to be cut out, and the next 50 feet we need to do this and this. Well, when they get in and they start sawing it, it may not be 70 feet. It may be 80 feet. Then again, we may have areas where we say it is not as bad as we thought it was."

At minimum the county needs to put the project out to bid or even go through the entire process before doing anything else, he said.

Lane Tree is at standstill and could lose people, Mayo said.

Wood reminded commissioners that they gave Canterbury residents a chance to change their minds.

Chairman Bill Pate suggested that the board's facilities committee look at changing the policy, but only after learning from the first project.

Mayo disagreed.

The board made the decision first time and should do so again, he said.

Mayo said he was ready to make the motion to change the policy but was not going to do so because he wanted to know how the other board members feel.

He suggested instead to put the issue on the board's Feb. 21 agenda.

"I don't think we are going to have the information necessary at our next meeting," Commissioner Joe Daughtery said. "I thought we had all agreed what we do would be to go through one subdivision in its entirety."

The county needs to go through the process of repairs and then at that point review and possibly make changes, he said.

"But I don't think in two weeks we are going to have any of that information in order to make any of those recommendations," he said. "So I would ask that we go through the process on Canterbury Village. Once we get through that we will have actual project completed so that we can make some determination based upon the facts."

Mayo asked how soon the Canterbury Village and North Creek project would be completed.

Wood said it would take about four months so be complete by July or August.

Mayo said that would be fine.

"I had it in my mind we would be going into 2018," Mayo said.