The Woods of Lake Helen, a development that was started around 2004, before the Great Recession, doesn’t own their roads.
The City of Lake Helen never officially adopted the roads either.
“I’ve represented 85 different HOAs over a 20-year career, and I have never seen this situation before,” The Woods of Lake Helen attorney Brian Hess said at a Lake Helen City Commission meeting March 9.
Usually, after a certain percentage of the development has been built out, a city will adopt the roads, taking responsibility for maintenance, signage and liability.
But the Great Recession left most of The Woods undeveloped for more than a decade, and the developer, Victoria Hills LLC, no longer exists. The Woods is run by its homeowners association (HOA), who did not build the roads and who has no legal ownership of them.
And, all of the necessary paperwork to show that the roads were built correctly, including land surveys and soil borings, either no longer exists, or is lost.
City Administrator Lee Evett and City Attorney Scott Simpson originally took the position that the cost of producing the documents would fall on the HOA, which the HOA representatives were firmly against. However, Evett and Simpson were directed by the City Commission to reach a cost-sharing agreement.