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February 20, 2013

City mandates on development result in counties maintaining easements and detention ponds

(Continued)

NORMAN —

In Norman, detention ponds in Sequoyah Trails and in Alameda Park are two examples of property owned and maintained by the Board of County Commissioners. The Alameda Park detention pond on 24th Avenue Northeast has belonged to the county since the late 1980s according to county records. The Sequoyah Trails Homeowners Association appears to have quit paying taxes on its detention pond in 2006 according to records available online at the Cleveland County Assessor’s Office.

When an HOA goes defunct, there is often no one left to pay the taxes and maintain the property, so taxpayers pick up the bill when the county takes over ownership.

District 2 Commissioner Darry Stacy said he has two or three such properties in his district within Norman.

“Whenever it’s a city requirement they go in and build a detention pond,” Stacy said. “I can’t continue to take these on with my guys. It’s more than we can do.”

County commissioners are concerned about city requirements for a 50 foot buffer in some cases. Commissioners believe they’ll end up maintaining these large buffers that are mandated by the city.

“It’s a problem that hasn’t been solved,” Reynolds said. “The city’s still making requirements of developers. Unless things change, we’re going to have the same problems in the future.”

State legislation is needed for a true solution, but, a former Oklahoma legislator himself, Reynolds said no one at the state capital wants to get caught up in a battle between cities and counties.

“We need the leaders for the cities and the counties to sit down and find a solution,” Reynolds said.

Once a solution is found, the two groups could go to the state legislature and get the law changed.

“It’s going to take the two sides in agreement,” Reynolds said. “They need to get together and solve the problem.”

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