No easy fix for Oak Hill problem

Published 11:07 am Friday, December 23, 2016

The City of Brookhaven and residents of Oak Hill Estates are at odds over who is responsible for road improvements in the neighborhood.

Several residents addressed the Board of Aldermen recently, with some leaving the meeting in frustration. Their anger is understandable.

Roads in the neighborhood are in bad shape and they want the city to fix them. The residents feel the city is obligated to provide services like road repairs after the area was annexed by Brookhaven.

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The issue is that the roads were never dedicated to the county prior to annexation and the city’s position is that those roads are still privately owned and not city property.

Both sides appear to have a sound argument. The residents feel they should get something in return for paying city taxes — namely road repairs and water service. The city, on the other hand, says it can’t work on the privately owned roads.

The neighborhood can still dedicate the streets to the city, but there are concerns that the roads weren’t built to city standards. If they’re not, the city won’t take possession of the streets.

“I think we’re at an impasse here,” homeowner Jeff Clark said before walking out of the board meeting. “I think that we, as a homeowner’s association, don’t feel like we have been treated fairly in the process, in view of what the city has done for other subdivisions.”

Many of the residents argued that they have been paying city taxes and should have the same benefits as the rest of the city. Several said they were unaware that the road they lived on was private when purchasing their homes.

Further complicating matters is that the city worked on the roads in the past, even though it technically shouldn’t have.

The only solution is for the homeowner’s association to get the roads tested to determine if they were built to city standards. If they are, it’s as simple as the city taking ownership of the roads. If that happens, the city owes it to those residents to fix the roads and move ahead with providing water service.

If they were not built to city standards, there’s not much the city can do — unless there’s evidence the city has taken ownership of private roads in the past that weren’t up to standards. If that has happened, a precedent has been set and the city should move ahead with repairs.

But if that’s not the case, it looks like it will be up to the homeowner’s association to either make repairs to the roads or bring them up to city standards so they can be dedicated to Brookhaven. Either way, it will be a costly endeavor.