COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Existing Infrastructure Cost Share Policy
Board direction on cost sharing for Sunridge Road and Key West dam improvements
Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Stumbaugh
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
November 3, 2004
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
At its September 1, 2004 meeting, the Board of Supervisors was asked to consider funding of two capital projects: Sunridge Road Improvements and Key West Dam Improvements. Rather than acting at that time, the Board requested staff to consider the policy issues surrounding the expenditure of public funds on these projects and to consider alternatives and a basis for cost sharing with the residents making the request.
In both cases, the facilities needing repair/replacement are on properties previously dedicated to public use. However, while the property was dedicated to public use, the facilities on the property were never accepted by the County for maintenance, repair or replacement. For this reason, Sunridge Road and the Key West dam are considered somewhat unique. Currently, the County only accepts the dedication of land for public use with a clear understanding regarding whether the facilities will be publicly or privately maintained. This is carried out through either an inspection of the facilities prior to them becoming a public responsibility, as is the case with drainage projects and road projects to be turned over to VDOT, or through approval of a maintenance agreement, in the case of public facilities to be privately maintained. According to the County Attorney, the County has no legal obligation to participate in the maintenance, repair or replacement of the facilities where the County took no affirmative action accepting those facilities.
In the case of Sunridge Road, the land was dedicated to public use with the intention that the road be turned over to VDOT for public maintenance, repair and replacement. The dedication was clearly made with the intention that the road be publicly maintained. However, for some reason, this never occurred. To avoid this circumstance today, a bond is required so the work can be done by the County if necessary. This assures that the road is brought up to state standards and turned over to VDOT for maintenance. These circumstances make Sunridge Road a unique situation that staff believes can be dealt with on a case by case basis rather than through the development of policy. Staff is unable to determine if this situation exists in other locations without review of individual files, but expects these circumstances to be rare.
Because Sunridge Road was intended to be turned over to VDOT for maintenance during development of the subdivision, staff believes it is appropriate for the County to bring the road up to State standards or to participate at a higher level. Staff has previously provided the Board with alternatives to fund the project without the use of County funding through the option of adding this project to the rural addition list. However, the Board chose to use County funding to accelerate the schedule for completion and previously approved $75,000. Unless the Board feels differently at this time, an additional $75,000 will be needed to complete phase II of Sunridge Road. It’s important to note that additional land beyond phase II was also dedicated to public use, but has not previously been discussed. Because no request has been made regarding this property, the Board may want to consider abandoning the right of way on the property beyond phase II to avoid additional expense in the future.
Key West Dam
In the case of the Key West Dam, the County accepted the property for public use, but took no affirmative action to accept the dam or road for public maintenance, repair or replacement. The road was not constructed to meet VDOT standards
because VDOT would not accept the road without the County’s agreement to be responsible for the dam. The County did not accept the dam or roadway when the facilities were completed. Since approval of the subdivision, the developer and residents have maintained the road and have recently indicated that they intend to continue to do so. The County has not previously been involved in any maintenance of the dam and staff is not aware that any maintenance or repair has taken place to the dam in the past.
As with Sunridge Road, the Key West dam is a somewhat unique situation in that the County accepted the property for public use, but did not accept the facilities. It appears this is the case because the County did not want to accept a road that VDOT would not maintain. It is unclear what consideration was given to the maintenance of the dam, but it is assumed the County also did not want to become responsible for the dam. The minutes indicate that the long term needs of the road and dam were likely to become an issue in the future.
Currently, the County has several policies regarding acceptance of facilities for public use that result in the County assuming the long term maintenance, repair and replacement. The County’s current policies regarding stormwater and drainage facilities result in most facilities being turned over to the County for long term care. Current County ordinances require dedication of all drainage facilities to the County because they are considered “necessary for the adequate provision of public services”. Additionally, through the Water Protection Ordinance, the County has indicated it will accept existing private stormwater facilities if they are determined to be appropriate to “protect the health, safety and welfare” and are “properly maintained and in good repair”. However, the ordinance does not require that the County accept them and does not preclude cost share agreements. Over the past several years, it has been the County’s practice to accept stormwater facilities where a public concern to “protect the health, safety and welfare” existed, but these facilities have generally not been “properly maintained and in good repair”. The poor condition of these facilities has generally been the primary reason a request was made to turn them over to the County. In these cases, the projects have been funded through the County’s Stormwater Fund and have generally not required a cost share. Finally, the most similar case to the Key West dam is the County’s decision to accept the dam connecting the Hollymead and Forrest Lakes subdivisions. The road over this dam was turned over to VDOT for maintenance, but required that the County agree to accept the dam for maintenance, repair and replacement. This facility was accepted by the County without a cost sharing agreement with the property owners. As a result, the County is responsible for ongoing maintenance, repair and replacement.
While policy currently exists regarding the dedication of drainage and stormwater facilities, the Key West dam is not a required stormwater facility because it could become a road embankment rather than a dam by draining the lake and returning the stream to its original state. Under these circumstances, the road and embankment could be turned over to VDOT for maintenance. Staff’s previous executive summary regarding this project addressed the concerns with this alternative. When this issue is considered in comparison with the Hollymead/Forrest Lakes dam, it may be argued that this road serves a larger population and is a critical throughway. However, no particular criteria exists to guide a decision regarding when the County would or would not accept such a facility. Regarding drainage and most stormwater facilities, and in the case of the Hollymead/Forrest Lakes dam, the County has not previously required a cost share agreement for maintenance, repair and replacement.
While the Key West dam is considered a unique situation for the reasons indicated above, it also appears that the County did not intend to be responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the road or dam. In addition, only a fifty foot right or way was dedicated to the County for public use, leaving the remainder of the dam under the control of other property owners. For these reasons, it does seem reasonable to expect some type of cost share with the residents. If the Board should decide to pursue a cost share with the residents of Key West, staff offers the following options:
1. Develop an agreement with the property owners to contribute some share of current and future dam maintenance, repair and replacement costs;
2. Establish a service district for the effected homes and assess an additional tax to pay for some share of the total cost of current and future dam maintenance, repair and replacement.
Because of the “health, safety and welfare” concerns expressed by the residents regarding the repair of the dam, staff believes that this project will need to proceed as soon as possible. While under option one the County could require all funding for repair of the dam prior to proceeding, this may not be realistic and the alternative for property owners to pay their portion of construction cost over time should also be considered. Because of the proposed obligation for resident to also
participate in future expenses under this option, some mechanism for ongoing contributions would be needed regardless. However, allowing payment over time through a property owner’s agreement will add the burden of collection and enforcement. Under option two, the County would need to establish an appropriate rate to ensure payback of the cost over some period of time. This arrangement would be enforceable by providing the County the option of placing a lien on the property if the taxes are not paid. If the Board should choose to pursue this option, various scenarios can be developed for review by the Board regarding an appropriate rate.
Regarding the cost share between the County and citizens, staff is unable to come up with an objective basis for guidance. The Board could consider a set percentage share on all current and future costs or could agree to pay 100% of the construction cost with the residents paying 100% of all future maintenance costs. Staff would recommend that actual maintenance work be managed by the County to ensure adequate standards are met for long term care.
1. Staff recommends that the Board appropriate an additional $75,000 for completion of phase II of the Sunridge Road project and abandon the remaining right of way beyond phase II of the project.
2. Staff recommends that the County proceed with construction of the repairs to Key West dam based on some form of cost sharing with the effected residents of Key West. If the Board agrees with this recommendation, staff requests direction regarding what costs the resident should share in and what mechanism should be utilized to assess the costs.
Based on the Board’s decision, staff will provided the appropriate approval forms on the consent agenda at the next meeting.
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