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Friday, October 9th, 2009

Council discusses subdivision goofs; possible taxpayer costs

By William Kincaid
Two Celina subdivision developers did not follow city standards when installing their roads.
And somebody, possibly city taxpayers, must pick up the costs of any future fix-it work.
City council members at a streets and alleys committee meeting Thursday learned recent test results confirmed previous suspicions that the roads in the Reserve Subdivision, developed by Chuck Samples, and Eaglebrooke Subdivision, developed by Randy Bruns, were not installed to city standards.
The average thickness of the asphalt depth - according to city mandates - is supposed to be a minimum of 3 inches, while the thickness of the subbase depth is supposed to be a minimum of 8 inches thick.
According to test results, Reserve Subdivision roads have an average asphalt thickness of 1.3 inches and an average subbase thickness of 8.7 inches. Eaglebrooke Subdivision roads have an average asphalt thickness of 2.3 inches and an average subbase thickness of 5.3 inches - all below city standards.
"It's very disappointing," said Councilwoman Angie King, who has led a charge for better inspection procedures the last several years.
City Engineering Assistant Jeremy Hinton said the developers have pledged to add an inch of asphalt before coating the roads when more lots are sold.
"That's a Band-Aid," Councilman June Scott said, a sentiment echoed by other council members.
The asphalt coring test were conducted by CTL Engineering, Wapakoneta, for $1,100 - paid for by the city.
CTL wrote that approximately 40 percent of the pavement area in the Reserve Subdivision and 70 percent of the pavement in Eaglebrooke Subdivision will require remediation prior to the placement of a topcoat.
"In summary, the asphalt conditions observed in both subdivisions ranged from good to failing," the report summary states. "The asphalt base course was extremely thin and severely cracked in many areas, especially at the intersections."
Many of the roads need work, including the deepening of the base and removal of existing asphalt, Celina Public Works Superintendent Joe Wolfe said.
King said two questions arise from the test: How does the city resolve the road problems and how were they allowed to happen in the first place?
Council members Myron Buxton and Scott said they think the city is ultimately responsible for paying for the remediation, as it is supposed to inspect roads.
But King strongly disagreed, pointing out the developers knew the required city standards before starting.
"What does our legal counsel say?" she asked, to which Hinton replied that he hasn't asked them yet.
Scott said he wanted to know whose responsibility it was to inspect the roads, to which no clear answer was given.
The roads in those subdivisions were never completely finished with a top coat because lots were still being sold, councilors learned. Councilman Mike Sovinski pointed out the city never officially approved any of those subdivision roads in any form because the final asphalt coat was never applied.
"It falls back on the developer and the people in the subdivision," Sovinski said about financial responsibility.
Many times roads initially can receive approval with a wheel test - which determines the compaction of the stone - but later can be found to be deficient, Sovinski said.
"There's always been a lack of documentation," he said.
Hinton said he would contact the city's legal counsel and also get a cost estimate for the required work before coming back to council.
Mayor Sharon LaRue said there is no money available this year to begin any of this work.
Also, Councilman Jeff Larmore said in the future, the city should require all subdivision developers to complete all roads in one phase, regardless of how many lots they've sold.
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