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With duplexes too close for comfort, Pamelia won’t own road planned at Route 37 subdivision

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The developer of the Deerfield subdivision and the town of Pamelia have locked horns again, this time over setbacks of some of the duplexes the company is building.

The Pamelia Town Council decided Monday that it will not take ownership of a road planned at the development off Route 37 because the curb is too close to the 39 duplexes planned there. Instead, the town will force the developer to create a private homeowners association requiring duplex owners to pay annual dues to maintain Ash Street. Foundations have been poured for two of the duplexes.

The board agreed to help developer Beacon Asset Managers, Jacksonville, Fla., solve the problem by allowing it to build the rest of the duplexes farther from the road to lengthen driveways. It voted to amend a rear setback provision for the 43-acre professional development district to do so, decreasing the space between property lines required behind the duplexes from 25 to 12 feet.

But even though the developer has complied with what the town asked, officials still refuse to take ownership of the road. They said they believe that the curb easement of 23 feet between the curb and garage at two duplexes now under construction isn’t enough to park vehicles without encroaching on the road. If vehicles are parked too close to the road, highway employees could have a challenging time operating large snowplows, Town Supervisor Lawrence C. Longway said.

Nevertheless, the plan for Ash Street does not violate the town’s setback requirements. The road includes a 50 foot right-of-way, 25 feet on each side of the centerline. An additional 11-foot easement between the road and duplexes provides space for electrical lines.

Annual dues for those who buy duplexes probably will be about $150 to $175 a year, said Robert L. Sipple Jr., the developer’s managing partner. He said a landscaping company will be hired to maintain the road and ponds and mow lawns on the property of duplex owners; residents who own single-family homes, who will live on roads to be owned by the town, will have to mow their own lawns.

Though he agreed with the town to create the homeowners association for the duplex road, Mr. Sipple said he would have preferred to negotiate an agreement for the town to take ownership of it, instead.

“We plan to move these duplexes back 6 to 8 feet to provide space for parking, and we’ve violated no town laws,” he said. “My preference would be for the town to find a way to adopt the road, but I think Larry Longway is just nervous about it for some reason. He’s now indifferent about our plan, though, because the HOA,” or homeowners association, “will be responsible for the upkeep of the roads and open space. They won’t have to pay to maintain the road.

“But if we find out the HOA causes more trouble than it is worth, I hope the town will (reconsider) adopting the road,” he said.

The Town Council’s vote Monday stipulated that a homeowners association on Ash Street will pay for the maintenance of the road, the sewer drainage system connected to it, two artificial ponds near the area and lawn care for the property surrounding the duplexes.

“The two foundations that have been built are too close to a public road, and that’s why they’re going to make a homeowners association to own it,” Mr. Longway said. “Even if the houses are moved back, there could still be not enough space and cars could be parked in the right-of-way. When snowplows go by, snow could fly and hit cars.”

The town will assume ownership and maintenance of three other roads at the subdivision that will link to 29 single-family homes planned there. Houses are being sold by Hunt Realty of Watertown, and are not available for lease.

General contractor Cunningham Excavation, Cazenovia, is expected to finish replacing flawed sewer lines at the subdivision this week. That four-week project, which cost the contractor about $150,000, was spurred after an engineer hired by the town found numerous dips in the sewer lines that could have become clogged with waste.

The town will not allow more families to move into unoccupied houses until the developer proves the sewer system has been repaired properly by Cunningham.

Mr. Sipple told Mr. Longway at Monday’s meeting that sewer lines will be inspected by the contractor with an underground video camera this week to ensure there are no dips in the 18 sewer lines and six uneven manholes that were repaired. That inspection will be completed under the supervision of a town official. Once finished, the developer will submit the video to the town for inspection. If approved, the town has agreed to issue certificates of occupancy needed to move more families into homes.

“We’re hopeful this will be resolved in the next two weeks,” Mr. Sipple said.

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