Wright County asks Buffalo homeowners to pay for neighborhood road improvements

1:42 AM, Sep 24, 2012   |    comments
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Wright County asks Buffalo homeowners to pay for road improvements.

BUFFALO, Minn. - Homeowners in a new development near Buffalo share a single road in disrepair, but it's a road now divided after Wright County asked the homeowners to pay for road improvements.

"Absolutely ridiculous," said John Hering. "About $15,000 dollars apiece."

The Hering family became the first homeowners in Grand Castle Estates on Aspen Avenue Northeast five years ago.

"We thought it would be a great place to raise our family and let them be out in the outdoors more," said John Hering.

The Herings are one of only three homeowners in the development after the housing developer went bankrupt during the recession. The remaining seven lots are owned by Investment Lending, LLC.

"We didn't even realize it wasn't a fully finished road until a year after the bankruptcy," said Hering. "We got a notice from township saying we weren't going to have anybody plowing our road."

The Herings said several years passed as the road continued to deteriorate, and last year learned Wright County issued a building moratorium given the state of the road.

"It only got a single layer of asphalt, there are supposed to be two," said Hering, pointing to cracking pavement and eroding potholes.

Then in early August, in a letter from Wright County, the Herings learned the county wanted to assess the cost of the deteriorating road back to homeowners, a $150-thousand dollar project, divided with an assessment to each lot, which amounts to approximately $15,000 per home.

The Herings say they already contributed to the road with the cost incorporated into the sale of their home, back when the developer secured a bond to build the road.

"We learned the county had a bond, was holding a bond, had it in a file cabinet but nobody bothered to go look for it," said Hering.

The bond is now expired, with no funds to draw from, after the bond money went back to the developer.

Wright County Commissioner Rose Thelen told KARE 11 "certainly no fault lies on the homeowners" adding that is seems the county, "dropped the ball."

Fellow Commissioner Pat Sawatzke said the county some responsibility. In an email to homeowners, he said, "I will continue to try and support an outcome that provides a good road for the neighborhood that the township finds acceptable to them to include in their road system."

But still, for the Herings, most frustrating of all, was the road not taken.

"Buffalo Township never inspected the road, and Wright County never issued the bond, so now we are left with no money to complete a road that should have been completed," said John Hering. "We have been paying our taxes, we have been patiently waiting for this road to get done. We feel it's the responsibility of the county and township to take care of us as taxpayers and do what they need to do."

Commissioner Elmer Eichelberg said some problems may stem from a lapse in Buffalo Township's road inspection.

"The inspection in my opinion was not in detail, and the information was not passed on to the county," he said.

Eichelberg said commissioners will announce some sort of agreement at their board meeting Tuesday,September 25th, at 9am. He says homeowners should be satisfied, if the proposed plan receives three or more votes from commissioners.

Eichelberg said he was not at liberty to discuss any details of the agreement until the meeting.

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