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The city will not foot the bill to repair a crumbling street in the Wakefield community, and instead will charge homeowners and property owners who had hoped to avoid getting stuck with the tab.
The dispute involves Wakefield Crossing Drive, a street that Raleigh officials say needs about $110,000 in repair work to meet the standard for joining the city road system.
Neighbors argued that Wakefield Crossing Drive should have been accepted into the city system more than 10 years ago when the Wakefield community was originally developed.
But neighbors lost their case in front of the City Council’s public works committee, which unanimously recommended charging property owners for repairs. The City Council still must take a final vote but is expected to follow the committee’s recommendation.
There is at least some good news for Wakefield residents.
Only part of the bill, about $4,100, will go to homeowners. The remainder will go to commercial property owners lining the street, including a day care, shopping center and office building.
Property owners are charged based on how much land they own along the street.
The committee found that the developer did not finish the final administrative steps and paperwork to complete the acceptance process.
Because the developer did not follow through, the street was never accepted for maintenance and is not maintained by the city, public works director Carl Dawson told neighbors.
Wakefield, a sprawling suburban community begun in the late 1990s, brought thousands of homes, stores and restaurants to an undeveloped part of North Raleigh.
“I just feel like we’ve not been treated fairly,” said Margaret King, president of the Wakefield Villages homeowners association.
“The street was put in before our homeowners association ever assumed responsibility. We all were told it was a public street, and we assumed it would be maintained by the city.”
City works with homeowners
The conflict illustrates a common problem with developers trying to turn over newly built streets to the city.
Typically, the City Council allows homeowners to submit a petition asking the city to make the needed repairs. Then, the homeowners pay assessments to cover the tab.
Earlier this year, council members used this approach in the cases of Olympia Drive and Woman’s Club Drive.
For Olympia Drive, the council authorized a street improvement project to bring the street up to city standards. The adjacent property owners were proportionally charged.
The method allowed the street to be improved and accepted for maintenance with the city covering the upfront costs and property owners paying back the debt.
On Woman’s Club Drive, adjacent property owners paid in advance for the estimated cost of the improvements after reaching a public-private agreement with the city.
Dawson notes that his department provides a financing plan to allow residents to repay the bill over a 10-year period.