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Community News

Road Re-paving: The Process and a Brief History in Chestnut Hill Farms
Posted on Nov 11th, 2016

The Process:
The Road Commission for Oakland County, or RCOC, is responsible for maintaining all of the roads in Oakland County, including those in the Chestnut Hill Farms Subdivision.  Road maintenance in the county is funded by gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees.  Property taxes do not fund road maintenance.  
Oakland County is a "donor" county.  That is, not all of the revenue collected in Oakland County through gasoline taxes and registration fees is used for maintenance in Oakland County.  Some of it is diverted to help maintain roads in rural counties throughout the state.  As a result, the revenue is insufficient to fund the re-paving of all streets in Oakland County.  So the re-paving of subdivision streets is handled through the "Special Assessment District" (SAD) program, as authorized by Public Act 246, which was enacted by the Michigan legislature in 1931.  This brochure published by the RCOC explains the SAD program.  The RCOC does provide basic maintenance of the streets, consisting of filling potholes, snow plowing in the winter and sweeping the streets in the spring.  But they will not re-pave the streets unless residents approve and pay for a project through the SAD program.  
The History in Chestnut Hill Farms Subdivision:
With the exception of Chickadee Lane and a short section of Chestnut Hill Drive, none of the roads in Chestnut Hill Farms have ever been re-paved.  Chickadee Lane was re-paved some years ago by ITC, the company that owns the utility transmission lines that bisect our subdivision, following the completion of a project to replace the large underground gas lines.  They also re-paved the short section of Chestnut Hill Drive that crosses their right-of-way.  
In 2010, following the SAD process, a petition was circulated to have the RCOC re-pave most of the roads in Chestnut Hill Farms.  The RCOC provided this estimate:  2010 estimate.  As you can see, the estimate ranged from $10,046.05 to $11,854.34 per lot, depending on the lot.  The proposal was voted down.  
In 2014, another attempt was made to pass the same project, again following the SAD process.  This time, however, the cost of the project had risen dramatically to $15,564.71 to $18,366.36, again depending on the lot.  The dramatic escalation in price was no doubt a factor that caused the project to be rejected by residents once again.  (Here's a copy of the RCOC letter:  2014 estimate.)  At the meeting with the RCOC, the question was asked, "Why can't we do this ourselves instead of going through the RCOC's SAD process?"  The answer was that we could, except that we lack the authority to assess each household to pay for it.  
In each case, the scope of the RCOC project was a complete re-build of the roads, Including tearing out and replacing all of the curbing, installing edge drain throughout, milling the road surface and laying down new asphalt.  
In 2015, some board members worked with a paving contractor to get an idea of the unit costs involved in re-paving our streets.  We found that, by working directly with contractors, the work could actually be done at a much lower cost than the RCOC would charge though, admittedly, it wouldn't involve a complete re-build of the roads but, rather, replacing only certain sections of curbing and re-paving the roads using a "mill-and-fill" process.  ("Mill-and-fill" is the process you see whereby contractors grind off the surface of the road and then lay down a new layer of asphalt.  This is the process that was used on repave Maybee Road in the summer of 2017, and was used to re-pave Dixie Highway a few years earlier.)  
However, as the Covenants of the Association are written, the Association doesn't have the authority to undertake such a project.  Our attorney advised us that, by revising our Covenants, we could take on the authority to execute such projects and assess homeowners to pay for them, but only after a specific project was approved by 2/3 of the affected homeowners.  So, in an effort to provide homeowners with a much more affordable solution for maintaining our roads, in 2015 we proposed amendments to our Covenants that would do exactly that.  That effort has failed and the Board has withdrawn the proposed amendment.  Currently, the Board is working on a new amendment that should alleviate some of the concerns that homeowners had and will stand a better chance of passing.  Stay tuned.