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Retirement. The term has such a beautiful ring to it. It speaks of the time to get to work on that bucket list of things you always wanted to do and places you wanted to visit but did not have the time or energy to do so.
Eleven years ago, while serving as the executive director of the Johnston County Habitat for Humanity and my spouse was teaching elementary school at West Smithfield Elementary, we bought our “retirement house” in a new subdivision in what is termed as unincorporated Johnston County.
About a year ago, several of us homeowners took note that the streets in our subdivision were showing signs of wear and tear. To our shock and total dismay, we discovered that no governmental entity was responsible for the upkeep and repair for not only the streets in our subdivision but all subdivisions in our class of subdivisions in the county.
What bothers me as much as anything is that when we purchased the property from the real estate agent, one well known in our county, there was no mention of the fact that we, the new homebuyers, would be responsible for the upkeep of our street.
I have since been told that my wife and I are at fault for not asking. My response is that real estate agents should be required by law to disclose to the homebuyer, very clearly and not in fine print, the fact that the homebuyer will be responsible for the repair and maintenance of the streets in his or her subdivision.
Never mind that we pay our state and county taxes including property taxes. Our retirement home is now more of a nightmare.
The following is the information I received from Braston Newton, planning director for Johnston County government, when I inquired about this issue:
“Johnston County has developed a paving program to assist for roads/streets in unincorporated areas of the county that are to be petitioned into the (N.C. Department of Transportation) system. This program is the Residential Subdivision Paving Assessment Program. The program requires 75% participation from the property owners within the subdivision and 10% of the total project cost upfront via certified funds, with the remaining 90% assessed to the property owners for no more than five years. Johnston County does not acquire or assume responsibility for the streets/roads improved, and has no liability arising from the construction of such improvements or the maintenance of such improvements as part of this financing.”
One simple question. How many of you reading the above statement and requirements, who are fortunate enough to live in subdivisions where your streets and roads are maintained for you, could meet the requirements set forth in Mr. Newton’s information?
If you live in a subdivision of houses in an unincorporated area in the range of $300,000 to $450,000, you will probably have no problem having your streets taken care of.
Cut those prices in half, creating a much lower tax base, and the politicians, lawyers and the regulations take a different tone. They will deny such, but reality says something far different.
I will continue to do my due diligence in researching this issue as I probe the county records to see how many subdivisions exist in Johnston County in unincorporated areas and the taxation levels they represent. This will include how their streets are maintained.
Stay tuned for more to come.
Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is a retired Baptist denominational worker who served as executive director of Johnston County Habitat for Humanity from 2004-08.