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'It's not fair'

Homeowners association asks for financial relief

July 28, 2010 - It's just not right, say Atwater Commons homeowners.

Right now, they're paying for maintenance on Atwater Commons Drive, a private drive servicing their condominiums.

But the drive is also used heavily by commercial traffic coming and going from the business portion of the planned unit development (PUD), like CVS Pharmacy and Applebee's. Residents say they don't get any monetary help for road maintenance from commercial property owners.

Now, Atwater Commons Homeowners Association says it wants the Village of Lake Orion to take over the road because the association can't afford it.

"We would definitely like the village to consider doing whatever they can to take over the road and alleviate expenses on my neighbors and myself," said Emily Privus, homeowners' association president.

But can the village afford it?

Taking over any private drive as a public road would cost the village more in maintenance, like paving and plowing, says Village Manager Paul Zelenak, and it's not something the village does on a usual basis.

However, Councilmember Doug Dendel said, "It's not fair for a private road to handle all this public traffic."

Privus said the homeowners' association paid for a traffic count and found that the public uses Atwater Commons Drive 80 percent of the time, leaving resident use at 20 percent.

She said in this economy, only about 50 of the 76 residential units are paying association dues. Two buildings in the PUD still haven't been finished by the developer, leaving the association with 76 units, instead of 108.

"We're operating with half of the amount of money we should have," said Privus. "We simply can't afford to maintain a road that's for public use 80 percent of the time."

She added, "We wouldn't ask the residents of Flint Street to pay for Flint Street, a road that's obviously used by the public."

The association did ask to look at alternatives to handing over the private drive to the village, like closing Atwater Commons Drive to commercial traffic or creating two drives, one for residential and one for commercial.

In any of the three alternatives, homeowners have to get commercial property owners on board, say village officials, before anything can move forward.

At the village council's July 12 meeting, they instructed the homeowners' association to go back to original PUD paperwork and see how to formally ask for the village to absorb the road, and also to talk to commercial property owners in the development. The village will also look at road construction requirements, to see if Atwater Commons Drive meets proper criteria.

After that "I think it will run up the flag pole and we'll see where we can go," said Village President Ken Van Portfliet.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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