Cautionary tale for homebuyers: Living in city limits doesn’t guarantee road repairs
ARGO, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s a cautionary tale for anyone in the market for a new home. Before you make an offer, take a close look at the streets in the subdivision.
Residents in Argo called 6 on Your Side to help sort out who’s responsible for maintaining the deteriorated roads in their neighborhood. We quickly learned, it’s a situation that’s playing out across the state.
Potholes, crumbling culverts and busted roads are a source of heartburn for Corey Medders and his neighbors in Argo’s Mountain Oaks subdivision.
Despite being in the city limits and a local taxpayer, those funds won’t be used here.
“When you move into a city and you buy a house in a city, you expect the city to take care of the public roads in that city,” Medders explained.
It’s a difficult lesson he and others learned after purchasing their homes.
The streets weaving through the subdivision were never finished by the developer and incorporated into the City of Argo. We’re told the developer wasn’t required to put up a bond to guarantee his work and filed for bankruptcy before the project finished.
The city declined an on-camera interview, but shared the law requires streets be up to code before the city council can vote to accept them. Specifically, those roads must have top coat and meet specific width requirements for emergency vehicle access. It also requires a bond to be posted in the event issues surface within the first year.
“The City would become statutorily liable for those streets knowing that there are inherent defects meaning more taxpayer money is on the line,” wrote Michael Brymer, attorney for the City of Argo. “It also creates an incentive for unscrupulous developers to come in and not meet the minimum requirements of subdivisions with an understanding that the City will correct its mistakes using public funds.”
For the city council to consider accepting the streets, Mountain Oaks residents would have to spend around $200,000 dollars to bring the roads up to code.
“The only option we’ve been given is to foot the bill and then the city might accept the roads after that,” Medders vented. “That would include us widening the road and having it striped and repaved. This neighborhood never got its top coat so it’s just been baking in the sun, cracking and creating holes. They’re asking us to start from square one.”
It’s difficult to find a stretch of road neighbors haven’t patched in the subdivision.
Medders and others have already spent thousands combined.
“A couple of us have bought buckets of [concrete] to put in some of these holes,” Medders acknowledged. “I’ve got a friend down the street that bought a couple of bags of concrete to fix a hole in front of his driveway.”
Brymer acknowledged the difficult position this leaves residents in Mountain Oaks and other local subdivisions.
“The City knows the headache and frustration this causes its citizens - including the city leaders who desperately want to offer assistance,” acknowledged Brymer. “To undertake the complete repair and replacement of streets that were never constructed to meet the minimum street requirements in the first place would require the City to perform the same maintenance and repair of other subdivisions who have the same or similar issue. The cost of the repairs alone would far exceed the City’s revenue.”
As for what’s ahead, that conclusion will likely come without Medders.
“We are in the process of looking for land right now,” Medders added. “I love the neighborhood. But as far as being in this particular one, we want to branch out and go somewhere where we can get the help that we need.”
If you’re considering buying a home in a new neighborhood that’s still under construction, confirm the developer put down a bond with the city or the county to guarantee their work. As for older neighborhoods, call the local city hall or county office to determine whether the streets are publicly maintained and if you would have access to police and fire coverage.
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