Boyle County approves agreement to pave Hunt Farm subdivision

Published 8:52 am Friday, March 2, 2018

More than a decade after construction began on the Hunt Farm subdivision in Boyle County, a legal agreement is moving forward that would result in the roads being completed.

Boyle County Fiscal Court approved this week a “settlement agreement” that, if also approved by the developer and local Planning and Zoning officials, would allow the final coat of asphalt to be placed on the three roads in the subdivision — Hunt Farm Road, Max Cavnes Road and Tom Spragens Road.

“The main thing was to take care of our citizens out there,” said Magistrate Jack Hendricks, whose district includes Hunt Farm. “This is definitely not the greatest way that we would want to go, but it gets it done for our people out there that need it done.”

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The story behind Hunt Farm’s roads goes back to 2007, when Joedy Sharpe Construction Company gave Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning an approximately $52,000 letter of credit “guaranteeing the construction of public infrastructure (i.e. roads and sidewalks)” in the Hunt Farm subdivision, which it was beginning to construct, according to the proposed agreement.

“… due to harsh economic conditions for new construction, plans for the subdivision were delayed and the public infrastructure was not constructed within five years as required,” the agreement reads.

After renewing the letter of credit for five years, P&Z cashed the letter of credit in 2011.

Letters of credit are designed to incentivize developers to finish subdivision infrastructure because P&Z is holding onto a chunk of the developer’s cash until the project is completed, P&Z Director Steve Hunter has explained previously. They’re also supposed to serve as a “backstop” if a developer disappears or goes bankrupt, so that P&Z has enough cash to finish a project on its own, Hunter has said.

In this case, there are several complicating factors:

• Joedy Sharpe Construction has not gone out of business and is still selling lots in the subdivision;

• P&Z sat on the cashed letter of credit for years; and

• the letter of credit may not have been enough money at the time it was taken out to complete the subdivision’s infrastructure and Hunter has estimated it’s around $18,000 too small at today’s prices.

The proposed agreement states that P&Z will use the letter-of-credit funds it’s holding to pay for paving Hunt Farm at the county’s state bid contract price. Boyle County will then accept the roads as public roadways, enabling the county to maintain them and provide services such as snow removal.

Joedy Sharpe Construction will be responsible for finishing the subdivision’s sidewalks, but whatever balance is left from the letter of credit after the roads are completed will also be used to cover that cost, according to the contract and Boyle County officials.

“It states very clearly that Joedy (Sharpe, owner of the construction company) has to come up with the additional moneys for sidewalks that he’s going to have to put in, according to the original agreement, unless he gets a waiver from (residents who don’t want a sidewalk in front of their house),” Hendricks said.

The agreement would require the construction company to submit a plan for completing the sidewalks to P&Z within 60 days of completion of the roadways.

Hunter said Tuesday the company will then be required to provide a new letter of credit for the sidewalk project, guaranteeing completion of that step.

Hendricks and Hunter noted the larger Hunt Farm preliminary plat, which is a master plan for 149 residential lots, has been rescinded by P&Z, meaning the construction company cannot currently develop further phases of the subdivision.

Hendricks said if the company wants to build another phase, it will have to come back to P&Z, get re-approved and bond the project at the correct amounts to complete it at today’s costs.

Speaking more broadly, Hendricks said there need to be changes in how developers bond their projects to ensure that if they fail to complete a project, there’s enough money available for P&Z to finish it.

“We’re going to have to do something in the way of an ordinance or something to help Planning and Zoning or they’re going to have to do it … to make sure these letters of credit or bonds get increased at least the cost of living every year,” Hendricks said. “… We’re going to have to change some things. Steve Hunter is working on that along with the P&Z board and I think they’ll come to it.

“But this agreement covers everything, it covers us. There’s absolutely no cost to the taxpayer with the exception of what time that (County Engineer) Duane (Campbell) may have to put in negotiating price and that sort of thing with … the contractor who is going to do this. The only thing we’re doing is guaranteeing that it will be done at the state bid price that we use.”