CANTON — The Canton City Council is set to discuss the city’s widespread issues with roads left incomplete by real estate developers in the wake of the economic downturn.
Mayor Gene Hobgood will lead a discussion during today’s City Council meeting.
The mayor said Wednesday he wants the city to consider hiring a third party to conduct a study into the issue, which dates back several years.
In times of economic boom, Hobgood said the city approved “an awful lot” of residential developments, but when the market slumped, many of the developers left before completing their work.
“No one could’ve anticipated the economy going south like it did and developers bailing out or moving on,” he said.
As a result of the economic downturn, the city is left with a “massive problem” with the roads in some subdivisions, Hobgood said.
“A lot of these streets, they don’t even have the final coat on them,” he said.
Community Development Director Ken Patton said Wednesday the issue is “quite substantial” throughout Canton.
Patton said subdivisions like Great Sky, Laurel Canyon, River Green, Towne Mill and Park Village all have streets which are incomplete.
“Pretty much parts of all of the residential developments,” in Canton have issues, he said.
With some of the developers of such communities out of business, Patton said the city is having to address the issues and determine who holds responsibility for the maintenance on these roads.
“There are some streets that were portrayed to the city to be private streets that would be owned by the homeowners association, maintained by the homeowners association,” Patton said. “There are streets that were proposed to be deeded to the city and the city take over (maintenance), which has not happened.”
And this dilemma
isn’t unique to Canton, Patton said.
“This is an ongoing issue, not only with the city of Canton, but I think every local government around,” he said.
Hobgood said the root of some of these problems lies in the fact that a vital step to safeguard the city from developers leaving before they finished their work was left out of the initial process of planning.
“Normally, what happens is when you approve a development and they start work, they post a bond so that if they leave … you would have the money to cash that bond and put a contractor in there,” Hobgood said.
But in many cases, those bonds were never posted, and in other cases, the contingency bonds were put up by the developers but have expired or were lost for other reasons, Hobgood said.
Hobgood said Canton
is exploring what recourse
it has to hold developers responsible for the roads they have left unfinished, but that is a complicated task, especially when
the companies have completely gone under.
In the meantime, he said he wants the city to begin identifying exactly which roads have issues.
“I think the first thing we need is a complete assessment of what the problem is,” Hobgood said.
He added Canton should begin to keep a better eye on its roads in general.
“That ought to be routine,” Hobgood said. “That ought to be in our budget every year.”