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Use, Not User...but a Bad Developer?

Messages
13
Points
1
Our Town's P&Z has approved several Subdivisions for a particular developer in town. Some of the Subdivisions involve issues (ie. Open Space or Conservation Development) that require a Special Permit....so there is some legislative discretionary power given to the Commission. However, since most of the objectives within the regulations can be satisfied, and since conditions of approval can be made to ensure conformance with the administrative zoning/site requirements, most of these Subdivsions must be Approved.

The problem is that this particular developer routinely does shoddy work. We do impose performance bonds, but inevitably there are still incomplete items, dissatisfied homeowners, etc. Planning & Zoning theory (& I believe Statutes) force the commission to consider applications based on the merits of the application and not the quality or qualifications of the developer (ie. Use not User)....but other than higher bonds, is there any adivse on how to tighten this repeating situation up?
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
pzchair said:
The problem is that this particular developer routinely does shoddy work. We do impose performance bonds, but inevitably there are still incomplete items, dissatisfied homeowners, etc.

Could you please elaborate? Is the shoddy work on the individual lots, or on the public areas such as infrastructure, parks, etc?
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
I have occasionally found it necessary to lose certain applications in the crack between my desk and the wall. But usually the folks who need it don't get the message. I would make sure my development agreements with this person (and everyone else) are ironclad, then stop lot sales, stop issuing CO's, etc until the deficiencies are corrected.
 
Messages
13
Points
1
SGB said:
Could you please elaborate? Is the shoddy work on the individual lots, or on the public areas such as infrastructure, parks, etc?

Mostly individual lots (not the homes themselves, but the site work that is part of the subdivision site plans). So very few of "Open Space" developments in town that I can't think of any deficiencies off hand with public areas. This developer has done office buildings in town too, and those deficiencies include missing landscaping/buffer areas and proper construction of drainage structures.

As I write this, I understand much can be controlled by higher bonds and more enforcement (my other posting re: "Survey" is an indication that we have some enforcement issues in town too). Some of the problems with the developer are at the homeowner level which is beyond the P&Z commission. However, when the two are compounded, the perception to the community gives a question of how the heck can we allow this guy to keep doing work.

Thanks
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I am not sure if this would work considering that once lots are sold they are no longer owned by the developer, but what if you withheld any building permits until the issues are resolved.
 
Messages
13
Points
1
Repo Man said:
I am not sure if this would work considering that once lots are sold they are no longer owned by the developer, but what if you withheld any building permits until the issues are resolved.

As close as we can get....the Building Official holds back on a building permit if taxes are outstanding.

As far as me clarifying the situation again...I have more insight now into the real problem:
The developer has a habit of selling off lots before all the site plan obligations are completed. Then, his excuse is that he can't finish because he no longer owns the lot. Since he is unable/unwilling to finish the subdivision, the town has the obligation to everyone who bought a lot in that subdivision to finish it for him (at his expense). So...it seems to me the answer is to make sure we have high enough bonds.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,952
Points
40
pzchair said:
So...it seems to me the answer is to make sure we have high enough bonds.

Seems the right track. We in my community don't allow "bonds" for any projects....they must be Letters of Credit. Much easier for the Town to pull if there are issues.

From my regs said:
SECTION 5: ASSURANCES FOR COMPLETION AND MAINTENANCE OF IMPROVEMENTS

5.01 GENERAL:
A. Prior to commencing any construction on a project, all the conditions of approval shall be met, the plan has been signed by the Planning Board, a preconstruction meeting has taken place with the Public Works Department, and the applicant has posted a performance surety to guarantee the completion of improvements. The performance surety shall be in the form of the “Hampton Method Letter of Credit” (copy on file with the DPW) or a cash bond on deposit with the Town in an interest bearing account. All Letters of Credit required by these regulations must be posted by a Town approved bank.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
Unless it is explicitly contrary to state law, your ordinances should forbid lot sales until all required improvements are in place OR a development agreement that has a specific, enforceable schedule of improvements has been executed.
 

cololi

Cyburbian
Messages
1,185
Points
22
In your area is it legal to lien the properties so that they could not be sold until the improvements are made and approved? Some states have laws against filing certain types of liens (mainly frivolous types of liens), but this is a good way of ensuring work gets done.

Some jurisdictions in Utah put liens on every ordinance violation until the property is brought into compliance. I would imagine that you could do the same thing with required subdivsion improvements.
 
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