Possible subdivision plan discussed

Published 11:55 am Thursday, March 7, 2019

Members of the Cumberland County Planning Commission discussed preliminary land plans concerning a subdivision that could potentially be placed in Cumberland County.

The land plans were for a concept of a subdivision called Bonbrook Estates Major Subdivision.

Land surveyor Woodrow Cofer and a representative of TimberCreek Building & Design, of Powhatan, approached the commission Feb. 25 to receive feedback from the commission and discuss what the process would be to potentially build a subdivision in Cumberland County.

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If the subdivision moves forward, it would be the first major subdivision considered for Cumberland County in some time, Commission Chair William Burger said.

Planning and Zoning Administrator J.P. Duncan said Bonbrook Estates is a major subdivision, defined as having more than five lots. The subdivision is also proposed to have private roads.

Private roads are roads that are not maintained by the county. This aspect of the subdivision concept drew some discussion among members of the commission.

County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Seay Giles said those involved with developing the private road maintenance agreements would need to create a strong and clear agreement that would let residents know what a private road entails. She spoke about working at another county years ago that required strong private road maintenance agreements.

“The requirements were very tight on those private road maintenance agreements, and it was kind of a pain on the front end, but it paid dividends later,” Giles said. “And again our code, we just haven’t revisited it because there are only so many hours in a day, we haven’t had a meeting about it.”

She encouraged the development of a Homeowners Association (HOA) agreement that would be signed by the residents of the subdivision and would outline how the private roads would be maintained. An HOA is an agreement between residents in a subdivision in which residents in the subdivision contribute to the upkeep of the subdivision.

“That’s what I would encourage,” Giles said. “Homeowners Association has really good rules about maintaining those roads.”

“I have no problem with the concept, but I do want something in there, ironclad about private roads,” Burger said. “I want something on the deed that says you understand that the county is not responsible for snow removal, anything to do with your roads, that this is your road.”

District Four commissioner Hubert Allen encouraged looking at how surrounding counties address private roads.

“Goochland, a number of years ago, had a very well-written thing in their code about how they handle private roads and private subdivisions,” Allen said. “I don’t know if it’s still in effect, I’m assuming it is, because I’ve seen these roads maintained over the years, and I don’t know if that’s something that perhaps we ought to take a look at, put a little more teeth into our ordinance on it. As far as the subdivision plat looks to me, I don’t have a problem with it. I think it’s a great design.”

At-large commissioner Leo Henderson made a similar call for a HOA agreement.

“I like everything except I think we need to send a recommendation that a Homeowners Association (agreement) should be put in place to ensure that the roads should be taken care of, not just to cut the county free of worrying about it, but to take care of the people that are moving in there,” Henderson said.

District Five commissioner Roland Gilliam and Vice Chair Randy Bryant asked how the HOA would enforce the agreement.

The HOA can place a lien, or a legal obligation to pay dues, on a homeowner that does not make the required payments.