The Kent County Levy Court has identified 12 subdivisions which have stalled in their construction, whether it is because the developer has walked away from the entire project or because the developer no longer has the funds to move forward.
These subdivisions are not completely abandoned, there are residents who live in them that have to deal with the eyesores of silt fencing, clogged drainage and inlet protections left in their neighborhood. In some cases these neighborhoods look as if they're still construction zones.
A list of 12 of the affected subdivisions was presented by Jared Adkins of the Kent County Conservation District at Tuesday's Levy Court's meeting.
The Levy Court proposed Kent County aid in removing silt fencing and inlet protection materials and unclog weed chocked drainage systems in the effected communities.
"You've got some people that are being harmed by the situation through no fault of their own, namely the homeowners. What is it that we can do to assist?" said Commissioner Eric Buckson. "I want to keep it on the small scale. We cannot assist with finishing the roads or building the club house. What we could do is play a role in how a person feels when they drive into their subdivision every day."
Commissioner George "Jody" Sweeney recommended the county begin placing liens on these problem communities so the banks that take over the unfinished projects will be forced to reimburse the county when it sells the project to a new investor. But Kent County's Director of Planning Services Sarah Kiefer said there isn't anything in the code allowing the county to place such a lien, so the county will have to foot the bill.
"There is nothing currently budgeted with planning services or within the administration budget to cover these costs so it would be a budget amendment," Keifer said.
The proposed budget amendment for this undertaking is $11,550. This number is based on the assessment made by the Conservation District. They went out to each site and estimated what it would cost to clean things up. Projects range in cost from $400 to $1,500, according to County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange.
"What we're doing here with $12,000 is to go out here and give these properties better curb appeal so that there's a better chance for them to sell and when that happens we will benefit," said Levy Court President Brooks Banta. "I think this is such a minimal amount of money for us to utilize to generate a better looking Kent County."
Sweeney, however, expressed concern having the county take on this responsibility may lead others to take advantage of the situation.
"If we get into a position where we're going to spend a couple thousand dollars to clean up rather than the developer who has stepped away from it or the bank that now owns it, they're going to let us do it," Sweeney said. "If they're not held accountable for what they're supposed to do we're going to get stuck holding the bill every time."
Page 2 of 2 - Buckson, though, said the communities generated a significant amount of tax revenue when economic times were better. He said it was now the county's responsibility put some funds back into those communities.
The commissioners unanimously voted to move this item to the consent agenda, which they'll vote on at their April 9 meeting.