Oswego may take control of private streets in subdivision

The village of Oswego is considering taking ownership of several private streets in the Ogden Falls subdivision.

The Village Board recently authorized staff to begin the process to accept ownership of nine streets that have been owned and maintained by the homeowners association in the neighborhood.

The 320-home subdivision was built in the late 1990s. Earlier this month, a representative of the Ogden Falls Homeowners Association requested village trustees consider assuming ownership and maintenance of the roads there.

Village Trustees Gail Johnson and Pam Parr raised objections about authorizing staff to move ahead before receiving information about concerns expressed at the Aug. 5 committee of the whole meeting.

Johnson and Parr originally requested staff’s opinion on potential liability, the condition of the streets and the impact assuming ownership of the streets would have on the village’s capital improvement plan.

“I need to know what our liabilities are and what the condition of the streets are so we are fully informed,” Parr said.

“There are a myriad of questions that make me feel uncomfortable. I want to get it done but I want my eyes wide open,” Johnson said.

Village Attorney Karl Ottosen said the Village Board approved the subdivision plats in 1997.

“This would not change the potential for a lawsuit,” Ottosen said. “… It is no different for these streets as it is for any other streets assuming those streets were properly platted as private streets.”

The village attorney noted the resolution essentially authorizes staff to move forward with the necessary steps to begin the process. He said another resolution would have to come back to the Village Board with an amended plat dedicating the streets to the village. He said an easement would also have to be provided to allow the village to access the roads and street lights for maintenance.

Village Administrator Steve Jones said that it is unusual to have private streets as those in Ogden Falls.

“Most of the time there is a justification for private streets where there is some incredible level of aesthetics that really only a homeowners association can maintain that is above and beyond what the village can do when it makes sense,” Jones said. “…If you can’t tell it is a private street, then it really should not be one.”

A representative of the Ogden Falls Homeowners Association told trustees that the homeowners association have been responsible for “fixing and maintaining” the streets at a cost of $750,000 over the past 13 years.

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