When Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) representative Greg Banks presented VDOT’s six-year plan to the Board, Supervisor Tony O’Brien used the opportunity to question him about whether Fluvanna residents in subdivisions with unapproved roads have any recourse in their quest to have their roads adopted into the state system.

Developers of subdivisions must build their roads to state specifications and are usually required to post a bond to ensure that their roads are properly constructed and brought into the state system.  But after the economic downturn many developers went bankrupt, leaving the roads in their subdivisions unfinished.  The result is unapproved roads that languish unmaintained by VDOT – and without anyone to claim responsibility.

Surely this situation isn’t unique to Fluvanna, O’Brien said to Banks, and asked if the state has any programs in place for bringing unapproved roads into the system.

After confirming that this problem exists in counties across the state, Banks mentioned the rural addition program, which allows for unapproved roads to be accepted into the state system.  To be eligible under that program’s “stringent” requirements, Banks said roads must have at least three homes per mile, be dedicated to public use prior to 1992, and not serve speculative parcels owned by a developer.  These requirements and others eliminate most of the developments with which O’Brien was concerned, leaving homeowners in Fluvanna’s newer developments without much recourse.

Upon hearing the news, O’Brien asked, “Is there any hope for these people?”

“I know of nothing at this time myself,” replied Banks.

“The solution is simple,” said County Attorney Fred Payne.  “It’s not easy but it’s simple.  And that is – somebody needs to come up with the money to build the roads up to perfect standard, post the appropriate bonds, and then VDOT will take them over.”

County Administrator Steve Nichols said that the county needs to do a better job of tracking the road bonds than it did in the past.  Payne agreed, calling the county’s former treatment of the road bonds “a mistake.”

Payne suggested that some successor developers and homeowners are now engaged in a game of “chicken” to see who will crack and pay for the roads.  “If they get together and get it done, they could get it done,” he said.

In other matters, supervisors approved a $362,500 request from the James River Water Authority to fund the construction of the intake from the James River and the first mile or so of pipeline into the Columbia area.  “This is an advance to the water authority to allow them to pay the bills until the debt financing comes through, and that’s expected in the summer,” said Nichols.  The funds will then be returned to the county’s uncommitted fund balance.  The motion passed 3-0.  Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch was away on vacation and Supervisor Don Weaver was absent due to the death of his son-in-law.

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