The Holiday Forest subdivision in Concord has been fighting a 40-year battle to get all of the neighborhood’s roads paved.
Brian Goldman, president of the Holiday Forest property owners’ association, appeared before the Campbell County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 6 to ask for financial or other assistance in the effort.
Goldman moved into his house on Nighthawk Road 13 years ago. He bought his home from the previous homeowner and was told at the time residents were working on getting the roads paved, he said.
The association has been in contact with the Virginia Department of Transportation during the effort.
“Over the years since we moved here, we always asked when the roads would be paved or who we needed to speak to,” Goldman said in a phone interview. “We were told they are the way they are because of the way it was built.”
He said the unpaved roads in his subdivision can be unsafe because of the incline and can add additional vehicle maintenance homeowners have to pay for.
A 1975 letter from VDOT to the then county administrator stated “I was amazed to find a number of streets constructed in a rather haphazard manner with apparently no regard for proper drainage design.”
To pay for maintenance of the unpaved roads, the homeowners’ association collects $100 per house or $90 from an undeveloped lot. Goldman said they have an annual budget of $15,000 to $17,000 to maintain the roads.
If the association were to raise rates, homeowners can cancel their membership in the association, as stated in association’s by-laws. The by-laws also state the association will dissolve in 2025, he said.
When the subdivision was created in the 1970s, the old subdivision ordinance stated if all new lots were five acres or more, all roads within the subdivision were privately maintained and not maintained by VDOT. The subdivision was developed by Holiday Forest Corporation.
“Also over the years, the homeowners have complained about the roads and decided they would rather have state maintained (roads),” said Campbell County Community Development Director Paul Harvey.
About half of the roads in Holiday Forest have been taken over by VDOT but five miles still remain unpaved and under the care of the property owners’ association.
If Holiday Forest was built today, roads in that subdivided property would need to be approved by the government and most of the roads would be state maintained, Harvey said.
He said Holiday Forest is one of the largest subdivisions in the county covering about 1,200 acres.
Goldman asked the board of supervisors for help either with money or assistance in the application process. If the board chooses not to give monetary assistance, Goldman said he would seek the help of state and federal legislators.
By law, the board of supervisors must take formal actions to approve the addition of these roads to the secondary system of state highways and request VDOT to maintain them. They must also identify the source of funding.
Timberlake District Supervisor Michael Rousseau asked at the Oct. 6 meeting if the subdivision has a “good turnover rate” then why is it “a 40-year injustice.”
Sunburst District Supervisor Steven Shockley said at the meeting the kitchen floor of his house is not level and he did not know that until after he bought the home. He asked if Goldman would pay to fix his unlevel house.
“Why should I pay for the improvements on your road,” Shockley asked.
Some board members were reluctant to give additional money to the project.
The previous roads were paved in the subdivision through revenue sharing projects.
The last five miles of roads are “the most egregious and aggressive roads,” Goldman said.
“We can do our part like in the past 40 years, with revenue sharing (with VDOT) we would pay 50 percent,” he said.
He added the association doesn’t have the money to bring the roads up to the threshold needed for VDOT to take over maintenance. The cost would be about $1.5 million, or about $300,000 per mile.
“VDOT is working well with us, they might be able to use their manpower to do the roads with low-volume paving,” Goldman said.
A funding option the association is pursing is a special assessment. Those who live or own property on the last five miles would pay money spread out over several years in the form of a tax. At least 75 percent support from homeowners on a specific road is required to receive the assessment.
Two other funding options for bringing the roads to meet state standards are money from the county’s general fund or revenue derived from the sale of bonds.
Some roads have had no problem getting that 75 percent support, but others were not so lucky.
“Like my neighbor has three parcels (of land on his road), but doesn’t want a special assessment. He has three votes in that process,” Goldman said.
Mount Vista Drive received 85 percent support so the association pushed those road property owners to go ahead with the assessment process. A public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Haberer Building as part of that process.
The project cost of just Mt. Vista Drive would be about $180,000. The annualized tax amount through the special assessment per resident would be about $226 over 20 years if they get the revenue sharing.
The “tax” handled by the county would be continued if a property were to change hands.
However, VDOT funding has decreased over the years.
“We’re racing against the clock to make sure we have access to those funds,” Goldman said.
It’s unfortunate because many people didn’t understand at the time the subdivision was created what it took financially to maintain private roads, he said.
VDOT will not take over the roads as part of the revenue sharing agreement until the property owners’ association has its part of the money ready and the roads meet certain qualifications.
“There are lots of other subdivisions throughout the state like this and across the nation. We are hoping to become an example for people to figure out what it takes,” he said.