The Town Council is considering an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance that would modify maintenance requirements for stormwater infrastructure in subdivisions with active homeowner’s associations, putting more of the responsibility on the HOAs.
The town received a letter from the Cary-based civil and environmental engineering firm WithersRavenel in September asking if it would reconsider the ordinance regarding the maintenance security cost of stormwater best management practices, senior planner Jason Brown told the council at its Monday, Nov. 7, meeting.
Currently, when stormwater structures are going to be owned and maintained by an HOA, property owners’ association or similar entity, the UDO requires that it establish an escrow account, which can be spent solely for sediment removal; structural, biological or vegetative replacement; or major repair or reconstruction of the structures. The developer and HOA fund the escrow account and an initial deposit equal to 15 percent of the initial construction cost is required. The remainder of the replacement costs is required to be deposited within 10 years, with 2/3 being submitted in the first five years.
The arrangement town staff is recommending would require the HOAs to include an assessment in their restrictive covenants and the town would require a smaller percentage of the overall costs be deposited into a replacement fund. The recommendation before council members calls for setting that floor at 33 percent of the overall costs. The replacement fund would be restricted for replacement and repair purposes only.
Burden on developer
“Doing that review it did appear to us that we really were on the high end of things,” Brown said. Also, the staff was concerned about the burden the current arrangement puts on the developer and administrative hardships for the staff. There are five subdivisions participating in the program with the majority of annual payments past due.
The council held a public hearing on the amendment at their Monday meeting and voted unanimously to refer the matter to the Land Use Review Board’s meeting on Monday, Nov. 14. No one spoke for or against the change at a public hearing the Town Council held Nov. 7.
Council member Mark Swan said he had concerns about citizens’ expectations for maintenance. “If there’s something that fails having to do with water or drainage,” he said, “they want us to fix it, and if we’re look at HOAs having to do that, having to do that maintenance, I just don’t have a lot of confidence. They don’t have a lot of expertise for doing that.”
Development Services Director Chris Hills said HOAs are expected to collect enough from their dues for maintenance, but the fund would be available in instances where the HOA doesn’t have the ability to make a repair.
“We are ultimately responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the entire storm water system” for residential properties, Hills said. “The HOA’s in a position where once the developer moves, it’s really owned by every single parcel owner within the subdivision.”
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826