07 July 2015
In an effort to tackle the problem of unapproved roads – that is, roads not accepted into the state system – plaguing various subdivisions county-wide, the Fluvanna County planning department is working on assembling a complete list.
This list will enumerate the county’s unapproved roads and the subdivisions in which they are located. Jason Stewart, planning and zoning administrator, told the Board of Supervisors Wednesday afternoon (July 1) that his department is peering into another question, as well – whether bonds remain on the roads, and if so, how much.
Not all of the county’s unapproved roads have bonds, or money put up by the developer to pay for the work required to bring those roads into the state system. And even if they do, the money may not be enough to cover the needed repairs.
According to Fluvanna’s zoning and subdivision ordinance, major subdivisions – those with more than five lots – require roads to be improved to standards set by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and dedicated to public use.
Under Virginia code, the county has no obligation to pay for the completion of the roads, Stewart said, and can’t be compelled to do so.
When Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch asked whether that meant that the county could choose to pay for the roads, County Attorney Fred Payne said that two recent amendments made the law debatable. When pressed for a definitive answer, Payne said that he thought it “likely” that the county could spend the money if it so desired.
Through no fault of their own, said Ullenbruch, many Fluvanna citizens are “in a bad spot,” living on streets they were told would be state-maintained. Instead they drive daily on roads that no one will plow or maintain – and they run the risk of footing the bill themselves.
When Stewart said that ultimately the developer and homeowners bear the responsibility to bring the roads into the state system, Payne spoke up. Calling that a
“last ditch” statement, he said that while technically correct, if a developer exists the law clearly points to the developer as the responsible party. The only way a developer can get out of this obligation is by going bankrupt, he said. That, however, is exactly what happened in the case of some of these subdivisions in question.
In that case, the successor developer bears the responsibility of bringing the roads into the state system. But identifying the successor developer can be trickier than it seems. While a successor developer was defined at one point in the meeting as someone who buys lots in a subdivision with a desire to build on them, one such company denied to the Fluvanna Review that it was, in fact, a successor developer, claiming instead to be merely an owner of lots.
Two subdivisions with unapproved roads and no road bonds, both on Rt. 53, are Cunningham Meadows and Taylor Ridge, said Stewart. His office hopes to have the complete list ready to present to the Board at its Aug. 5 meeting.In other business:
• The Board also turned its attention to the new E911 radio communications system project, approving a contract for just under $100,000 with RCC Consultants. As the county’s consultants, the company will work with vendor Motorola to make sure that the county receives everything that has been agreed to, said Joe Rodish, procurement officer, and to see that the project goes as smoothly as possible. The money comes from the existing radio project fund, which now has an uncommitted balance of about $287,000.