Durham residents locked with city over who should pay for unfinished neighborhood streets
Posted May 19, 2015
Durham, N.C. — Michael Kerkau finds the rough roads in Ravenstone, the Durham neighborhood where he’s lived since 2006, downright embarrassing.
“Last count I’ve had is five vehicles taken out – the oil pans right off the bottom of the car,” Kerkau said.
The roads in Ravenstone and nearby Stone Hill Estates were paved by developers, but asphalt was never put down. The incomplete work has left the roads in deteriorating condition, with potholes, crumbling pavement and exposed manhole covers.
“Our residents are living in a community that has no finished streets,” Kerkau said. “We have been told from the beginning, once construction is completed, there would be streets.”
The problems began in 2008, when the developers went bankrupt and never completed the job. The developers’ insurers took the City of Durham to court, where a judge decided the insurance companies didn't have to pay to fix the roads.
“Now we have to decide how to complete the subdivision,” said Robert Joyner with Durham’s Public Works Department.
Joyner said because the roads were never finished, the city does not own them. His department is proposing a plan that would see the city pay 10 percent of the cost - and each household in the two neighborhoods pay about $5,000 to make the necessary repairs.
Ravenstone Homeowners Association President Ryan Lanci said the solution just doesn't seem right.
“It makes it seem as if we're accountable for the condition of our streets and the way things have not been done,” he said.
Residents propose having a city-wide tax on all homeowners to pay for the repairs. They estimate it would cost about $11 per household.
“The city has by their actions demonstrated that they are aware that they mishandled the situation,” Lanci said. “We are simply asking for them to admit their mistake. Take accountability and make it right in a more appropriate fashion than penalizing us.”
Residents also say they have been paying city taxes for years for services they haven't received, including street sweeping and snow plowing.
Durham City Council will discuss the matter during a work session Thursday.