BY DAVID ANDERSON, firstname.lastname@example.org
9:13 AM EDT, July 10, 2013
If the Bel Air town commissioners approve a contract during their August meeting, homeowners in the Roland Place subdivision would be faced with a nearly $60,000 price tag for repairs to their stormwater management pond.
Public Works Director Randy Robertson presented during Tuesday's work session a sheaf of current and prior state laws, town codes and signed agreements between the developer and the town when Roland Place was built during the late 1980s, which indicated the owners of the properties were responsible for maintenance of the stormwater management pond and other common areas.
The town could conduct regular inspections and perform repairs, and then bill the property owners for their costs.
"After 22, 23 years they've now deteriorated to the point that they have to be replaced," Robertson said regarding the pipes in the stormwater management pond.
The issue facing the current owners of the 31 lots off Rock Spring Road in the northern end of town is that the developer, Clark Turner of Harford County, did not establish a homeowners' association, according to Robertson.
He said the listing for the HOA on the local tax rolls was "Clark Turner LLC."
Establishing a homeowners' association is a requirement of building a subdivision; the association would charge property owners fees and collect the money for maintenance and other needs.
Robertson said Turner took care of the maintenance of the stormwater pond until about five to six years ago when he told town officials he planned to give the responsibility to the homeowners.
Robertson said Turner had been taking care of mowing the grass and keeping vegetation at bay, but the homeowners did not take on the task, and it was not dealt with until the town recently spent $11,000 to clear out the facility.
Bel Air inspectors "were then able to get in and actually look at the structures" in the pond, such as the galvanized pipes that had been installed two decades ago.
The inspection showed the pipes needed to be replaced.
"Herein lies the rub, in that we have about a $60,000 job with no homeowners' association that is willing to do it," Robertson said.
Commissioner Susan Burdette, who resides in the Major's Choice subdivision off Moores Mill Road, noted property owners there pay a landscaper to maintain the grass around the stormwater pond.
The public works director said homeowners' associations are a "big burden" for municipalities and homeowners, but "they're created for a good reason."
"If you get a good core of people to do it, they do it and they do it well," Robertson said.
The public works director said Roland Place homeowners feel Turner "left them saddled" with the responsibility for the pond.
All the codes and agreements shown by Robertson make it clear that the property owners are ultimately responsible for maintenance costs, however.
Town Administrator Chris Schlehr said the matter will be placed on the agenda for the town meeting scheduled for Aug. 12.