Questions arise at latest Highland Heights hearing

June 27, 2014

There were no significant improvements to the plan for the Highland Heights development presented at the Virden Center June 18. It is the same old plan with all the same old problems, but one bit of information was added that is just as disturbing as the rest of the plan.

When a resident asked who was going to maintain the two retention ponds, the walking path and bike trail and protect the remaining wetlands, the answer was "the home owners association." The city must realize that it is often next to impossible to get people to serve on HOAs. The only qualification for the job is the willingness to say yes. They rarely have the expertise to maintain retention ponds, which if neglected are devoured by vegetation that can overwhelm the pond and require expensive dredging. Routine maintenance is also expensive, costing about $5,000 per year per pond.

And what if these residents are part time and have no interest in maintenance? Will the potential buyers be informed before they invest in this responsibility? Will they pay $800,000 if they realize the burden that comes with the home? Will these potential buyers be told, even though they are buying property within the city limits, that there is another layer of governance that may or may not be competent? Will these potential buyers be told that their homes were built on wetlands and that the probability of standing water, house settling causing cracked ceilings and cracked foundations, french drains, crawl pace sump-pumps, and sink holes is inevitable and problems they will have to live with for the duration. all reducing their home's value?

And who will the owners of the surrounding properties appeal to if the property is not properly cared for? And why does our lovely city insist in creating these gated developments within the city limits, with poor connectivity increasing the need for automobiles, and diminishing the sense of community? If the governance of this community is going to approve major developments it must take responsibility for the maintenance. Are we going to continue to make the same mistakes over and over again?

Even though the portion of the development off Seagull Drive is practically in the shadow of Beebe Hospital, and should be a 10-minute walk, the two cul-de-sacs with no through streets will require 9-1-1 calls to respond by driving in the opposite direction taking a three-mile trip that could mean the difference between life and death. The opposed streets will be narrower with parking on only one side. Who is going to monitor this in high season when visitors park wherever they can fit?

The plan was not improved because it cannot be improved The land is too wet to build on.

The principle responsibility of any governing body of any municipality in this wonderful country is the protection of its citizens. The approval of this development flies in the face of that responsibility. To those who have a vote, please do the right thing.

Ann Nolan

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