‘Significant Change’ In East River Subdivision Master Plan Will Raise HOA Fees

Residents who purchase homes in the East River subdivision being built on Buffalo Road near Booker Dairy Road in North Smithfield will pay a little more each month in Homeowner Association fees following a last minute change in the subdivision master plan.

In December 2018, the Smithfield Town Council approved East River’s master plan and preliminary plan.  East River would be built in phases. Upon completion there will be up to 280 single family homes, of which up to 76 may be attached units or triplexes.  There will be up to 35 townhouse units.  The developer, Reed Smith of Clayton, indicated to town officials the finished homes will range in price from $150,000 to $200,000.

Construction of Phase One is nearly complete.  When the developer recently submitted plans for Phase Two there was a change to how stormwater management was being addressed, significantly different than what was approved in 2018 on the original plans.

Originally, according to Planning Director Stephen Wensman, an existing pond near the Neuse River would be used for stormwater purposes, but because of a NC Department of Environmental Quality decision, the pond can now only be used for stormwater attenuation and not to treat stormwater for quality. As a result, Wensman said, a significant portion of the planned open space will have to be used to construct stormwater wetlands in order to treat the stormwater adequately before it enters the Neuse River.

“The storm water plan for the development was forced to change considerably from the original preliminary plat,” Town Manager Mike Scott said. “The Council was concerned this change in plans could create a hardship on the HOA in future years, if they did not plan accordingly for repairs that may likely be needed. The Developer made a good faith gesture in offering to create a fund for the HOA immediately by contributing $5,000 to the fund and included supporting a recommendation that at least one dollar from each HOA payment by the residents of the subdivision will go into the fund for future repairs. The exact amount is going to be worked out between the developer, Town Staff and the Town attorney once we have a better chance to determine what ongoing repair costs might entail.”

“This allowed the Council to be more comfortable with the storm water changes that had taken place in the plans and approve the construction of Phase Two to move forward without any unnecessary delays. This was a good example of the Town and the Developer sorting out a problem and finding a solution that will be long term,” Scott added.

When the Council approved the original 67.88 acre subdivision in 2018, they stipulated that any major revisions must come back before the Council.   The Council unanimously approved the latest revisions contingent upon working out the exact monthly HOA payment that will be earmarked for the upkeep of the stormwater pond.