Home Politics Over $500,000 to be dedicated to recently annexed roads

Over $500,000 to be dedicated to recently annexed roads

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Eight hundred acres of land, the University Estates development, was recently annexed into the city and will complete $532,722 of road repairs by the end of this construction season.

University Estates is located along Route 682, and it is not affiliated with Ohio University.

“It was called University Estates, I think just because it was near the university,” At-Large Rep. Chris Knisely said during Monday night’s City Council meeting. “It wasn’t, I don’t think, to the best of my knowledge, ever owned by the university. It was a Dr. Conard who developed it.”

Dr. Richard Conard had the University Estates annexed into the city of Athens a number of years ago. “Between 2003 and 2005,” according to Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl.

Since then, a history spanning over multiple mayoral administrations and includes difficult legal questions ensued.

According to Wiehl, the University Estates petitioned the city of Athens to assist in road reparations before its annexations, but Athens did not accept the road.

“When a road is built, we look at the road and see if it’s up to grade, in other words, if it passes our standards,” Wiehl said. “And then we accept the road. What happened at University Estates was, the road was not built up to our standards; we did not accept it.”

Wiehl went on to explain that University Estates was eventually annexed into the city after they had rejected the road. The road was still below city acceptance, but the city and University Estates struck a deal involving a performance bond.

“Normally when you start building a subdivision, you have to put down a performance bond,” Wiehl said. “Performance bond means that if you don’t perform and build the roads, that bond will be used by the city to actually build the road. It’s like a deposit saying ‘I’m gonna build this road. If I don’t then you use the deposit.’”

Wiehl, a city councilman at the time, recalled a conundrum that he was left to address during his current tenure.

“During the previous administration, the deposit was actually released, and never brought back,” Wiehl said. “So it sat there for quite a few years. We did not accept it. It was planned, but not accepted. And there were people living up there and building houses who would complain about it.”

The people of University Estates eventually petitioned to have the road assessed. This development led Wiehl to the difficult legal, and as he put it, philosophical question: “Can you assess for a road that you haven’t accepted?”

It was eventually decided that yes, the road could be assessed, and it was. The city then had to come up with funds to pay for the repairs.

“We borrowed the money,” Wiehl said. “We took a loan out and it’s going to be paid by the property owners.”

The city must still pay for a portion of the road repairs, which will come from the street department’s budget. The vast majority of the payment, about 90 percent, will be paid back by the property owners of University Estates.

“We’re doing about ten percent about of it, I thought, because ten percent of it is our road,” Wiehl said.

Although some may pay off the loan immediately, it will take many of the property owners upwards of ten years to pay back the loan, according to Wiehl.


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