Officials lack policy to clear private roads
Last week, four Crandall Station subdivision residents attended the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting to voice their concerns about road conditions in their subdivision.
‘I’ve had two cars end up in my yard,’ Keith Kinley of Crandall told the commissioners last week.
He added that one of the cars had been totaled and both ended up in his yard due to icy and snowy roads that had not been cleared by the subdivision’s developer, Gilbert Bezy.
‘Mr. Bezy says it’s the highway (department’s) responsibility and the highway says it’s Mr. Bezy’s responsibility,’ Kinley said.
Kinley also said the roads have caused problems with mail not being delivered, and that he has been concerned that emergency vehicles would not be able to get up the steep hill on Jacob’s Ridge Road in inclement weather.
‘You needed a four-wheel drive to get home,’ Kinley said, regarding the snow and ice that came two weeks ago.
‘He’s got equipment sitting (in the subdivision). There is no reason why he can’t at least clear the hill,’ Kinley said.
The commissioners said the problem is one they have seen before, and it needs to be addressed on a countywide basis.
‘We have no control over Mr. Bezy,’ Commissioner Chairman James Goldman told Kinley last week, adding the county needs a policy to help residents in that situation.
Jeff Hawkins, who also lives in Crandall Station, said he had experienced the same problem before in a newly developed subdivision in which he lived, and has had trouble getting home at Crandall Station.
‘It appears that there is no system in place for the county to take responsibility for new subdivisions in a timely fashion,’ Hawkins said yesterday. ‘(The problem) has left the residents of Crandall Station with a situation that puts the residents’ lives and property at risk.’
Until a developer has completely finished the roads in a subdivision, county officials say the developer is responsible for clearing them. Roads must be completely finished before a county will take over responsibility for them.
When a developer begins a subdivision, a cash bond or letter of credit is turned over to the county. The county may cash that bond and use the funds to complete the roads in a subdivision if a developer fails to do so. However, there are no provisions that allow county officials to cash the bonds to pay for servicing the roads.
‘They’d have to change the rules,’ county planner Eric Wise said last week.
Wise also said there is no deadline for a developer to finish subdivision roads, and bonds are typically renewed as long as the developer is progressing on the subdivision.
‘For the roads, it’s pretty much at their leisure right now,’ Wise said.
In the case of the Crandall Station, lots could begin to be sold beginning in September 2000, according to permits on file with Harrison County Planning and Zoning. The first plans for the subdivision were filed in July 1999.
Harrison County Engineer Kevin Russel said the three roads in the subdivision are still waiting for one inch of surface to be laid before the county will take over the roads under the county’s policy.
Usually developers wait to completely finish the roads until the subdivision is complete, to avoid damage to the new roads from heavy construction traffic. There are still lots being developed in Crandall Station.
Wise said there are a few subdivisions like Fox Run and Lost Creek that are private, and the roads have never been turned over to the county. He said they had not had any requests for a permit for a private subdivision in many years. Private subdivisions require larger lots and do not require that the roads be paved. However, homeowners are responsible for the roads in private subdivisions, and typically school buses will not travel on any non-county road.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart said Monday they had asked the county engineer to look into the problem at Crandall Station and others like it, to work on some kind of agreement. The county is concerned about liability issues if they were to service roads before the developer turns them over to the county.
Commissioner Terry Miller said something needs to be done about the issue.
‘I don’t think it’s right to let people sit there for years and years with no services,’ Miller said. ‘It seems to me that if the developer isn’t going to keep up the roads, we need to do something,’
Bezy, developer of Crandall Station, could not be reached for comment.