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Last chance for Elk View to create SAD

May 18, 2011 - Elk View Estates' property owners received their final warning from the Oxford Township Board last week.

They either agree to help pay for road and drainage fixes in their subdivision or their unapproved roads will be reported to the Oakland County Register of Deeds, making refinancing or selling properties there virtually impossible.

"These homes are not on approved private or public roads," said township Supervisor Bill Dunn. "This will notify future purchasers of land or homes in that subdivision that there's a problem with those homes out there."

Elk View Estates' property owners have until Monday, May 23 to agree to participate in a special assessment district (SAD) that would make them responsible for paying 35 percent of the cost to bring the subdivision's two unapproved roads, Elkview and Bull Run, up to public standards and fix all the surface water drainage problems that plague the area.

Elk View Estates is located on the east side of Baldwin Rd, south of Hummer Lake Rd.

According to Dunn, right now, nine of the subdivision's 23 property owners have agreed to participate in the SAD.

In order to establish the SAD, 12 property owners (which equals 52 percent) must sign the petition.

If the township does not get enough property owners to agree to participate in the SAD by May 23, the board directed Dunn to notify the county of these roads' status.

Dunn said this will have the effect of putting a "big scarlet letter" on the every single property in the subdivision "warning people of the problem."

"It will be a red flag to any title companies searching these properties' records," the supervisor told this reporter.

As it stands right now, neither of Elk View's roads legally exists because they were never dedicated as public or private roads nor were they ever approved by the road commission.

Both roads are still technically private property.

This means all of the subdivision homes along these two roads are not in compliance with the township zoning ordinance, which states a house can only be built on an approved public or private road.

Mortgage companies and banks won't loan money to purchase or refinance properties that aren't in compliance with the local zoning ordinance.

No building permits can technically be issued in the subdivision for the same reason.

Back in December 2009, the township agreed to pay 65 percent of the cost to improve the roads and fix the drainage problems. At that time, the estimated project cost was approximately $325,000. Since then, there's been no new estimate, so whether the price will go up or down is unknown.

Since the board's decision, Dunn's spent the last 16 months trying to get at least 12 Elk View property owners to agree to pay the other 35 percent.

"I've sent letters, e-mails, made phone calls, held meetings, talked to people in person," he told this reporter. "I honestly don't know what more I could do or how much clearer I can make things. I've tried, believe me, I've tried."

This whole saga began approximately 12 years ago.

Elk View residents and township officials alike agree it was the allegedly improper actions of developer Scott Constable, who supposedly didn't play by the rules when planning and constructing the subdivision, that led to this whole situation.

Errors made by both the county and the township building department compounded the problems and added to the mess.

Over the years, the township spent more than $200,000 in legal fees trying to resolve the issue on the property owners' behalf by pursuing Constable through the court system.

Constable declared bankruptcy in 2005 and moved out of state, leaving the township and Elk View property owners to resolve the situation with no financial assistance whatsoever from the county.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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