Brookings pursuing street upgrades

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer July 07, 2012 10:39 am

The city of Brookings plans to call in its deferred improvement agreements (DIAs) from homeowners along Hassett Street – and some residents aren’t too happy.

DIAs are made when the city and developer agree to defer required improvements associated with the property, such as sidewalks, storm drain facilities and street widening.

The issue will be discussed at the City Council’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, July 9.

Most, if not all, of the DIAs on Hassett Street have not been enforced, which sets a precedent for 200 others throughout the city, noted Public Works Director Loree Pryce.

The city plans to forge ahead with the improvements and homeowners are required to contribute their share for them.

Those costs vary widely – from about $3,500 to $$35,000 – depending on work that needs to be done.

Work includes widening 28 feet of the street, paving, undergrounding drainage and building sidewalks – the option staff recommends.

This represents a 19 percent reduction in improvements proposed in the original plan, which called for a 36-foot widening of the road.

If homeowners opt not to pay – or can’t – the city will place a lien against their property that would be collected when the property is eventually sold.

City policy requires developers to make frontage improvements, but some weren’t done due to difficult site conditions that required an overall street engineering or drainage plan. In those cases, the developer has had to sign a DIA to contribute that money at a later date.

Currently, there are 196 DIAs within the city limits, and eight on Hassett Street. None of the original owners who signed the DIA currently own the property.

And some residents are not happy, if letters to the city are any indication.

The general consensus of those who submitted comments to the city expressed surprise and distaste – the audacity of the city expecting them to pony up money in uncertain economic times.

Some noted they are on fixed incomes, were misinformed by a realtor in escrow, the property is under water, and paying for the improvements would preclude paying for one’s son’s college education.

Other alternatives the council could opt to take include:

•Not calling in the DIAs and proceeding with street reconstruction with no frontage improvements and minimal drain improvements

•Modifying or eliminating some improvements from the owner’s responsibility or

•Eliminate storm drain improvements and consider the DIA requirements fulfilled without them.