Homeowners approach board for help in solving Chestnut Hill road issues
Bad and unfinished roads brought Chestnut Hill subdivision representatives to the Madison County Board of Supervisors meeting seeking help.
The 100-home subdivision off Highway 463 could be facing costly road problems. This issue comes after months and even years of issues between developer principal David Landrum and lot owners in the subdivision.
“The biggest issue (right now) is the roads aren’t being maintained, so we don’t want more roads being built,” Homeowners Association (HOA) representative Russell Green said.
According to Green, Landrum placed the roads under the responsibility of the HOA before anyone bought lots. He was the only member of the association and accepted the responsibility as HOA president.
The existing roads in the neighborhood have been left unfinished for more than five years and have deteriorated almost beyond repair. Now not only does Landrum want homeowners to repair existing roads he also wants them to build more, according to Trey Baxter, District Two supervisor and board president.
When the roads were built in 2007, the initial asphalt was laid down with the intention of the developer finishing the final coat within the following three to five years. That was never done.
“The first coat is meant to be structural and cannot withstand weather,” said Green. “The top coat can withstand weather, and the two coats together provide a good road. Maintenance hasn’t been done and the roads have been there so long, they’re not holding up.”
Because the neighborhood is gated, the roads are considered private roads, and it’s up to the developer to make sure the roads are in good condition.
Green said he and other HOA members don’t expect the county to fix the roads since that responsibility falls to the developer, Chestnut Hills LLC, but that help from the county would be appreciated.
According to Green, four bonds have been issued for the roads since 2007. Madison County is named as the obligee for three. The county’s bonds are worth approximately $234,000 for parts one-A and one-B; $115,000 for part one-C; and $104,000 for part one-E.
The Chestnut Hill HOA is named as the obligee for the fourth bond, which is worth approximately $53,000 and is for part one-D of the subdivision.
“The bonds are based on the roads being in normal condition,” said Green. “And I don’t know what it’s going to cost to fix the roads.”
“(Landrum) built the neighborhood in 2007 and formed the HOA, but he was the president and the owner,” said Baxter. “He took the roads out from under his responsibility as developer and put it under the HOA, knowing they’d be on the hook.”
“During construction, Landrum turned the roads over to the HOA and received them on behalf of the HOA, as HOA president,” said Green.
Fixing one lane mile costs anywhere between $75,000 and $100,000, depending on materials, the condition of the road, and whether it’s done in-house. There are approximately three miles of road that need to be fixed in the subdivision.
“We feel like we’re just along for the ride,” said Green. “We don’t know if the (four) bonds are still good or not. We’ve asked the county to look into the bonds and roads, and maybe provide assistance.”
According to Green, the county is looking into state law to see if and how they can help Chestnut Hill. During the meeting, the board voted to have Dan Gaillet, county engineer, investigate what can be done.
“Ten years later, and the roads are in horrible shape,” said Baxter. “There aren’t enough houses built to activate the bonds to fix the roads.”
In recent months, Chestnut Hill has been under scrutiny because the developer has deviated from the master plan.
The master plan allows for exactly 100 lots, but Landrum has approached the board of supervisors asking for permission to build 106.
“We sent it back to the planning and zoning board for the 106 total lots,” said Baxter. “Also, the homeowners are upset because the minimum square footage was dropped, lowering the value of homes in the subdivision.”
The original square footage in the master plan was listed at 3,500 square feet. Landrum has since tried to drop it to 2,500 square feet.
“The developer had a right to December 31, 2017, to change the covenants,” said Green. “While that is true, it also says the changes cannot be substantive or material, and we would argue that reducing the square footage by 1,000 square feet would fall into that.”
Currently, only 50 lots have been sold in the subdivision.