Planning consultant proposes ‘alternative minimum bond’ for subdivision developments

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By Bill Short

Millington’s planning consultant has proposed that the city have an option to establish an “alternative minimum bond” for residential subdivision developments.

Charles Goforth recently presented his proposal at two meetings of the Millington Planning Commission and a Work Session of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

He noted that, years ago, people would draw up a subdivision plan and sell lots when a subdivision had not yet been developed. Although some of those subdivisions were completed, he said others never were.

So, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting that.

Goforth said Tennessee law currently allows several different methods of constructing subdivisions. One is the “no-bond” option, which Shelby County and some municipalities have.

With that, a developer can build everything he wants to in the subdivision, including the streets. But before any plat can be recorded, he must post a bond to cover any uncompleted work.

Goforth said Millington does not really like that system and has not used it. He noted that the city currently has only one option.

“If you’re doing a subdivision,” he said, “once you get ready to start building, you have to post a 100-percent bond, plus 6-percent for inflation, and then set up the money for streetlights, too. And you still can’t build until we approve everything.”

He noted that, in a subdivision, all the public improvements must be completed before the first house is constructed. Those include the streets, sewer, water, curbs and gutters.

Goforth said Bartlett has recently established a new system where any work that involves improvements to the city’s existing roads and streets must be bonded.

The bond stays in place, and the plat is not recorded until “as-built” drawings have been submitted, and the city has fully accepted the subdivision. Then, the money is kept for the paving work.

Noting that the Millington planning staff is “looking at the possibility of doing that,” Goforth said it would like an option to set up a “minimum” bond.

Included in the things that would have to be bonded are:

(1) erosion control, because the city is responsible for maintaining that;

(2) any work necessary to tie into an existing water, sewer or storm drain line;

(3) sidewalks and handicapped-accessible ramps;

(4) the final coat of asphalt; and

(5) streetlights

Goforth acknowledged that the option for an “alternative minimum bond” would have to be approved by the board and the planning commission. But he said it does not require an amendment to any of the city’s regulations.

“It will require an amendment to the subdivision contract that is between the board and the developer,” he noted. “We feel like this would be more protective to us, because anything that would happen would be on our property or our utilities, and we’ve got it bonded.”