When it comes to the streets of Camp Verde, “accepted” is not “approved,” and thereby hangs a tale.
For at least the last three months, the Camp Verde Town Council has been repeatedly considering accepting the streets of the Verde Cliffs subdivision in the Cliffs development just north of downtown.
Then the item mysteriously vanished after the Feb. 7 council meeting when the specter of litigation raised its head over the issue.
As recently as last week, Mayor Tony Gioia was under the impression that the streets had not been accepted, while Town Manager Bill Lee said they were.
“It’s just plain crazy,” Verde Cliffs resident John Stephens said. “Originally, I went downtown and they said, ‘no,’ the streets had not been accepted, then they said they had. A couple of weeks ago, Marvin Buckel [the town’s street inspector] told me the year warranty on the streets is up in June of this year.”
In a letter to contractor Joe Contadino dated Feb. 22, Town Attorney Bill Sims said when the streets were accepted on Nov. 29 of last year, the
warranty period began.
Apparently, when the town approves the final plat, or plan, for a development, it accepts title, or ownership, of the streets.
The town can then “approve” the streets, or not, once they are built.
Sims said that the town had two additional protections to rely upon.
First, the town can make a developer post a bond and draw money from that bond if it does not approve of how streets are built.
Second, the town can refuse to issue permits for the entire development if, after a few houses are built, it does not approve of the streets.
Gioia said he thought those protections were insufficient.
“It seems ridiculous to me because it seems like the only way we can stop from accepting streets before they’re even built is to not accept the plat,” Gioia said. “Before the town takes on the responsibility of maintenance, I for one would like to make sure that everything is in top order, not starting from some need for repair.”
Sims said that this problem stems in part from outdated and imprecise sections of town code that were pasted in wholesale from county ordinances during incorporation 20 years ago.
“This has been on the radar screen,” Sims said, “and Joe Contadino really brought it home.”
The question of who approves streets that have been accepted in the planning stage is still open.
Gioia said that after all the confusion over “accept” and “approve,” he thinks council needs to have a hand in approval of improvements once they are built.
Stephens, the Verde Cliffs resident, said he and Buckel would be walking the subdivision together this week to assess the quality of the streets.
Of even more concern to Stephens is what he sees as a dangerous lack of parking enforcement in Verde Cliffs.
According to Stephens, the town accepted the subdivision with the most minimally acceptable width of 24 feet, and that allows no room for on-street parking.
“The other day two pickups were parked opposite each other,” Stephens said. “A school bus might get through, but not the fire department, and an emergency wagon cannot get through.”
So nevermind the cracks in the streets — if residents need an ambulance and their neighbors have blocked the street, not only the residents, but the town of Camp Verde may be in deep trouble at that point.