Valley Springs Commission, property owners settle on West Acres paving costs

By: 
Jill Meier, Journal editor

Jill Meier

Journal editor

 

The Valley Springs City Commission and Lynx Street property owners in the West Acres Development have finally agreed to split the bill.

Following more than a year of contention as to who should foot the bill to put the final lift of asphalt on Lynx Street, the commission and property owners agreed to a 50-50 split. The cost for property owners ranges between $900 and $2,500. Those who choose to pay their share of the paving costs can have it added to their property taxes, and by Resolution 2021-06, were granted up to eight years at 3 percent interest to do so.

The controversy stems back years to developer Jeremy Scadden and his inability to pay for putting down the second lift of asphalt. 

One resident once again voiced her displeasure about covering the paving costs.

“I still don’t understand why us homeowners are responsible for it when it’s the developer’s responsibility,” she said. “It just clearly states that he’s responsible and that the city should not have issued any permits without having cash escrow …”

The city is also not responsible to cover the cost of paving Lynx Street.

Commissioner Brian Staeffler told the property owner, “Go ahead and try and sue him. We’ve already gone through all of this.”

Mayor Carl Moss reminded property owners that other residents have had to pay for roads in their development.

“I guess when I moved into my house, I was part of a development, too, and I didn’t have a choice. I had to pay for mine. To be honest with you, I understand you but I have had a few comments from people outside of your development asking why we are paying 50 percent of your street,” he said. “That (50 percent of the cost) is our – how can I say it – final offer.”

Property owners may not have to begin paying for the road assessment until 2022 because of the “tight window to get it to the county to put on property tax assessment,” said Linda Hunnel, finance officer.

City attorney Patrick Glover told property owners that if they pay it within so many days of the actual assessment, no interest would be charged.

“But if you do it where you’re paying it through your property taxes, it has to have interest. There is no way around it for the city to do it that way,” he said.

Glover said if the first payment wold due by Jan. 1 of the next year, it doesn’t become delinquent until May 1.

The history behind paving of Lynx Street

In February 2020, the commission approved a bid of $49,796 for the second lift of asphalt in the West Acres development. As reported by the Journal, the commission said they would assess the affected property owners. 

By April, tempers flared, as about a dozen Lynx Street residents stood outside the Legion Hall, protesting the timing of the unexpected expense. Several other residents called into the public hearing, which was open to the public via teleconference to adhere to coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

Residents objected to the assessments they’d received from the city, with amounts averaging $1,500, although fluctuating on the lot size of the property. Property owners demanded answers as to why the city was not holding the developerresponsible for the cost.

Scadden, however, has said he does not have the financial backing to meet his obligation, and separated himself from the project, which ultimately left property owners to foot the bill.

Glover explained to the property owners that the original contracts were be-tween the developer and the lot buyers, which stipulated that the developer was responsible for final lift of asphalt.

“The developer did not go through with that,” Glover said. “The city does not have the same right to go after the developer … The city has the responsibility to maintain the roads in the city. If the as-phalt’s not put on, the roads are going to get worse.”

Following more than an hour of heated dialogue between property owners and the commission, the topic was postponed for six months. 

Six months after the issue was deferred, paving cost estimates increased by $20,000, coming in at $69,694.

In November 2020, on the advice of Glover, the commission approved an updated assurance agree-ment that will require a surety bond for future housing developments in Valley Springs. 

“There was an assurance agreement on it, but there was no bond, which was specifically stated in the agreement,” Glover told the commission. “The teeth in the agreement is if the contract is violated and you have an obvious cause of action for breach of contract, there is language in the assurance agree-ment that says you can then withhold building permits, occupancy permits, those kinds of things that will stop development. You didn’t have that in the last one.”

Glover advised that surety bonds are typically 10 percent of the whatever the Commission requests to be put up. He suggested the contract not specify an exact amount, and the bond should reflect the project needs. The city would only file a claim on the surety bond in the instances of a problem, such as the West Acres development paving issued.

Scadden went on commission record in 2005 saying he cannot pay for the paving. He did offer $20,000, but never came through with the promised payment.

“At the point it happened, there were nine lots that had been sold out there and that was the initial offer is you have to pay for these nine. He came up with the $20,000 to cover those,” Glover said.

By December, the commission and property owners had struck a deal the cost would be shared be-tween the ity and the affected property owners. 

“I’m not saying we’re responsible, we’re just trying to help you out,” Mayor Carl Moss said.

Ron Kuipers, developer of Homestead at Valley View which is located directly south of West Acres, asked in December if any legal action could be taken against Scadden.

Glover said there are “other things going on with him that indicates he has nothing.”

“We would be spending good money going after no money,” Kuipers answered. “It’s pretty much a waste of time. I think we should be working on a solution.”

Kuipers went on to explain that the second lift of asphalt is needed before the road can be turned over to the city. Under the present condition, the city is not liable to maintain the road, although they continued to remove snow from the road.

In hopes of securing more favorable bids, Kuipers offered to pair this project with roads that will be paved in his development later this summer.

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The Brandon Valley Journal

 

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