County adopts builders contract for subdivisions

Published 6:32 pm Friday, July 11, 2008

Developers in DeSoto County will now have to sign contracts that will require them to build promised subdivision amenities on a phase-by-phase, section-by-section schedule, or to take out bonds or securities to ensure those amenities are built.

For at least two years, supervisors have discussed imposing tighter controls on developers in the unincorporated areas of the county.

County officials say there’s been a problem with developers delaying construction of amenities until the latter phases of a development, prompting complaints from people who move in during the early phases.

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The contract requirement will take effect Aug. 1.

Many cities and counties across the state have been studying means to provide water and sewer and pay for police and fire protection to offset the increased demand the new developments would create.

Some governments have tried to impose impact fees on developers.

Impact fees are a cost charged to developers to finance the services required by a new development. Such fees are used in many states to build streets, sidewalks and sewers in new developments. The fees also are used to shift the costs of those services from taxpayers to the residents of the new development.

However, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that local governments have no legal right to impose the fees and that the fees were nothing more than an illegal tax.

DeSoto County planning director Jim McDougal said the contract also would apply to any developer who has had a preliminary subdivision approval for more than two years who has not yet obtained final subdivision approval.

Sean Green, a spokesman for the North Mississippi Home Builders, said, “There are some home builders and developers who will not like this at all. But there was definitely a need for it.

“There is not a line in here that’s not been agreed upon. And there’s nothing in here the home builders association does not agree with.”

Green, a home builder and developer, said the best thing about the contract is that “everybody will be on the same page with the same rules.”

“All this is is something that makes a developer do what he’s supposed to do,” Green said.