Snead developer brings engineer to replay dispute

Lee Ridge developer Terry Stover tried again to persuade the Snead Town Council at its last regular meeting to accept his subdivision road. With the assistance of his engineer John Hyde, Stover argued they had done what the city asked in 2005.

Councilman Curtis Painter, mayor in 2005, viewed the matter differently, claiming that Stover never took the final step of asking the town to accept the road. Councilmen Jack Freeman and James Campbell questioned the engineer’s claim that the road had the proper top covering at the time of its construction.

With some subdivision residents and one real estate agent speaking, the exchange lasted almost an hour. Each side presented various arguments favoring its position.

The discussion was begun by Stover, who was recognized but had not appeared on the agenda for the past two meetings (a normal council requirement for one to speak). Hyde quickly stepped in. The engineer offered a copy of a letter dated June 2, 2005, from town engineer Robert Nelson, which detailed deficiencies with Lee Ridgeroad. Hyde said he followed that list of “10 or 12” items and made sure those points were addressed in construction of the road. He and Stover said they were unaware they had to make a later written request for the town to accept responsibility for the road.

Hyde claims the road did meet the 2005 county and town requirements but admits it does not meet the current requirements, established in 2007. Hyde acknowledged he knew that the town would not accept the road for maintenance until at least one year after its construction. He asserted the town does own the road but has not accepted responsibility for maintaining it. (The council says town attorney Alex Smith holds the town does not own the road, that it is private property, and that the town cannot work on private property.)

Stover conceded he made the mistake of not formally requesting the town accept the road. He questioned why Painter had not told him he needed to make the request. After Painter said he did not “recall talking to you that many times,” Stover responded that he had not really wanted to talk much with Painter.

Freeman, who has developed various subdivisions including one in Snead, related some personal experiences. He said he bore the expense of redoing one road after a particularly harsh winter because he felt it was the right thing for him to do as the developer. He said the town should have required a bond from Stover for the road. With the town holding the bond, Stover would then have had motivation to clear everything with the council.

Stover indicated he felt he had already done enough on the road. He said Mayor Tim Kent, who was not present for the meeting, had told him he would order the road repaired immediately, if the council accepts it.

Painter responded that the mayor does not have that authority. One argument hinges on that question of authority. Because Painter as mayor signed the preliminary plat, some contend the town accepted the road. Painter and the council claim the mayor authorized only that construction begin within the guidelines of that preliminary plat. They hold only the council can accept the road.

The July 12 council discussion had ended with an understanding that an engineer would look at the road and decide what was needed. Nelson made such an inspection and in a letter dated July 19, 2010, wrote:

“As a result of our review and subsequent

letter of June 2, 2005, we never
received any of the information requested
from the Developer or his engineer. We
have no record of receiving or reviewing
the Final Plat for this Subdivision. I do
recall having a conversation with the
Developer’s engineer and he told me they
would furnish the requested information
if the Developer authorized them to do
the extra work. I am not certain, but I
believe I had one conversation with the
Developer about our letter. I recall it being
discussed that if the Developer did not
furnish the information as required by
the Town’s (County) Subdivision Regulations,

I could not recommend the Town
accept the dedication of the streets nor
drainage within the Subdivision. This
Subdivision did not meet the Town’s minimum

submission requirements per its
adopted Regulations in 2005.”

Freeman, at one point, said he felt a judge needed to resolve the dispute. Several, as on July 12, questioned why the parties should spend money for litigation that could be used for perceived better purposes. Freeman eventually asked Stover if he would be willing to mediate the matter, to which Stover agreed.

Mayor pro tem
Charles Sanders, who missed the prior meeting and who was presiding in Kent’s absence, won council approval for a work session with the town attorney, Stover’s attorney, engineer( s), the council, and interested residents to examine further the dispute.

Other business

The council approved a resolution authorizing application for a $250,000 grant to improve the town sewer system. Members agreed to delay consideration of hiring a geologist to explore possible new town water sources until all councilors were present.

The council accepted Freeman’s recommendation to hire a painter for work on the outside of the town hall.

Town clerk Rae Ware updated the council on plans for the town’s annual August picnic.

Kent and councilman Phillip McHan missed the July 26 session. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the community center.

What the sides seem to be saying:

Developer: The town should take responsibility for maintaining the road.

Council: The road does not meet town standards.

Developer: It did when constructed in 2005 and was built as you instructed us through your town engineer’s letter.

Council: How do we know that? You never asked us to take the road then, and so we never inspected it to verify its construction.

[The developer claimed July 12 but did not repeat on July 26 that the county engineer had approved the road’s completed construction]

Developer: You did not tell me I needed to request in writing that you accept the road. I thought when you accepted the plat you had accepted the road.

Council: Acceptance of the plat was only for recording purposes and permission to begin construction.

[The essence: No one wants to assume the estimated $30,000 bill to get the road to currently required standards]