Driving or walking on the streets in the Martha’s Vineyard subdivision in Seymour, people find themselves dodging potholes.
When the housing addition was being developed on the city’s northeast side in 2006, a subbase was put down for the roads, but the topcoat never was applied.
That has resulted in numerous potholes, especially in the middle of the streets.
Jason Enrique, president of the homeowners association, said water holding near one home resulted in the crawl space staying wet. Combined with the condition of the road near the home, the property value dropped $25,000, so those people moved to another area of the city.
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A few other people are selling their homes.
Residents have expressed their frustrations to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in the past, and Enrique recently attended a commissioners meeting for the second time this year to try to get the roads paved.
“We’ve kind of reached our boiling point, I think,” Enrique said. “Our roads have deteriorated to the point where now, we’re going to have to go out of pocket again for the second time to buy cold patch and go out and patch up the holes in our roads that are getting worse and worse.
“We have buses coming through, we have new developments that are going to be connected to our neighborhood that increase traffic flow through our neighborhoods, we’ve got young families that live in our neighborhood and kids can’t even play in the streets because the roads are so bad,” he said. “I don’t let my girls go out on the roads and ride their bikes because they are going to slip and fall.”
After some discussion, Commissioner Drew Markel brought up the subdivision being within the 2-mile fringe around Seymour, which means the city would have had jurisdiction when Martha’s Vineyard was being built by Kenny Spoor and Heritage Development. The city would have approved the subdivision, plat and development.
County Building Commissioner Conner Barnette said a clause on the subdivision’s survey plat says the county would adopt the roads if they met performance standards, but they never did.
“It’s (the city’s) responsibility to make sure the developer meets those standards, and then we can take over the road,” Barnette said.
County attorney Susan Bevers said no county official would have inspected the project, but in 2015, Warren Martin, who was the county highway superintendent at the time, did core sampling of the subbase for Patriot Engineering, and the county fixed a storm sewer collapse.
The engineering was done, and Martin got the quote and samples back. Nothing else was done to the roads, but the sewer was fixed.
“We went out and did work on the storm sewer like we said we would,” Bevers said. “The rest of that was discussed as the developer at the time putting in $20,000 toward paving if the homeowners association could come up with the rest, and that’s where it failed.”
Enrique estimated it would cost $60,000 to pave the roads, but he said the developer has claimed he doesn’t have the money to cover the cost, and the homeowners don’t think it’s their responsibility.
In 2015, the developer’s name and company were removed from verbiage in the homeowners association’s bylaws. Since then, the group has conducted a couple of elections to put board members in place.
When some residents attended a commissioners meeting in 2015, a petition with 29 signatures was presented. They requested a vote to pave the roads, and then-Commissioner Tom Joray made a motion, but it died due to the lack of a second.
Enrique said he spoke to Joray multiple times after that, and at one point, Joray suggested the homeowners association pursue legal action against the developer to get the money to pave the roads. Enrique said he told Joray that shouldn’t be the association’s responsibility.
Currently, a home being built will put the subdivision at full capacity with 45 homes and more than 200 people living in the neighborhood.
“We as residents were not involved with any of this (development) process,” Enrique said. “We bought our homes under the understanding and goodwill that the job was going to be done. If it wasn’t done the right way, the proper measures were put in place to protect the residents from a situation like this.
“For 10 years now, we’ve been dealing with it, and we’re here today basically to get an answer because we want our roads paved,” he said. “We need them paved as soon as we can get them paved, and we’re just kind of fed up with it. We’re not here to point blame. I just know that our residents have been wronged. I don’t care whose fault it is. We just want the problem solved, and we need our roads paved.”
In his research, Enrique found the developer’s letter of credit expired, and a bank wouldn’t renew it. When he asked for a copy of the letter of credit on multiple occasions, Enrique said Spoor told him he didn’t have it. Spoor told him he switched banks several times while constructing the subdivision.
Enrique then reviewed the county’s subdivision control ordinance, which was adopted in 2008 and requires a developer to have a surety bond in place. That also was stated in the county code, which was put in place in 1969 and amended in 1995.
Enrique said he’s not sure how Spoor was able to get his plans approved with a letter of credit since both documents say a bond is required.
Bevers said a bond or a letter of credit used to be acceptable under the county code and subdivision control ordinance, but letter of credit was taken out in recent years.
Commissioners President Matt Reedy said if the county adopted the roads and paved them, it would set a precedent for other subdivision developers.
Enrique said asking subdivision residents to cover the cost to pave the roads also is setting a precedent that’s unheard of because the roads are not their property.
Commissioners asked Bevers to look into the legality of the issue and County Highway Superintendent Jerry Ault to see if a paving company would be willing to give the county a preferred price on paving.
Ault said he had contacted Patriot Engineering about releasing the results of the core samples, but the company would only do that for Spoor, who paid for the sampling work.
Commissioners plan to revisit the issue during the July 18 meeting at the Jackson County Courthouse Annex in Brownstown.