ARGO, Ala. (WBRC) – It’s a cautionary tale for anyone in the market for a new home. Before you make an offer, take a closer look at the streets in the subdivision.
Argo residents called 6 on Your Side to help find out who is responsible for maintaining the deteriorating roads in their neighborhood. We quickly learned that this is a statewide situation.
Potholes, crumbling culverts and blown roads are a source of heartburn for Corey Medders and his neighbors in Argo’s Mountain Oaks subdivision.
Despite being in the city limits and a local taxpayer, those funds will not be spent here.
“When you move into a city and you buy a house in a city, you expect the city to take care of the public roads in that city,” Medders explained.
It’s a hard lesson he and others learned after buying their home.
The streets that weaved through the subdivision were never completed by the developer and incorporated into the city of Argo. We’re told the builder wasn’t required to post a bond to guarantee his work and filed for bankruptcy before the project was complete.
The city declined an on-camera interview, but shared that the law requires the streets to be up to code before the City Council can vote to accept them. Specifically, these roads must have a top coat and meet specific width requirements for emergency vehicle access. It also requires a bond to be issued if problems arise within the first year.
“The city would become legally responsible for these streets knowing that there are inherent defects, which means more taxpayer money is at stake,” wrote Michael Brymer, attorney for the city of Argo. “It also creates an incentive for unscrupulous developers to come in and not meet minimum subdivision requirements with the understanding that the city will correct its mistakes using public funds.”
For the City Council to consider accepting the streets, Mountain Oaks residents would have to spend about $200,000 dollars to bring the roads up to code.
“The only option we’ve been given is to pay the bill and then maybe the city will accept the roads after that,” Medders said. “That will include us widening the road and getting it stripped and repaved. This neighborhood never got its topcoat, so it’s just baked in the sun, cracked and potholed. They’re asking us to start over.”
It is difficult to find a stretch of road that neighbors have not patched up.
Medders and others have already spent thousands together.
“A couple of us have bought buckets of [concrete] to put in some of those holes,” Medders acknowledged. “I have a friend down the street who bought a few bags of concrete to fix a pothole in front of his driveway.”
Brymer acknowledged the difficult position this leaves residents in Mountain Oaks and other local subdivisions.
“The city knows the headache and frustration this is causing its citizens — including city leaders who desperately want to offer help,” Brymer acknowledged. “Undertaking the complete repair and replacement of streets that were never built to meet minimum street requirements in the first place would require the city to perform the same maintenance and repair of other subdivisions that have the same or similar problem. The cost of the repairs alone would far exceed the city’s revenue.”
As for what lies ahead, that conclusion will likely come without Medders.
“We’re in the process of looking for land right now,” Medders added. “I love the neighborhood. But in terms of being in this particular one, we want to branch out and go somewhere where we can get the help that we need.”
If you’re considering buying a home in a new neighborhood that’s still under construction, confirm that the builder has bonded with the city or county to guarantee their work. For older neighborhoods, call the local city hall or county office to determine if the streets are publicly maintained and if you want access to police and fire coverage.
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