North Ogden gives more teeth to PRUD ordinance

Aug 17 2012 - 11:54pm

NORTH OGDEN -- The city council has voted unanimously to toughen its planned residential unit development ordinance.

A PRUD is a residential development planned as a single community. PRUDs are similar to subdivisions, but must have at least half of the land used as open space and require a Homeowners' Association that collects fees from residents to maintain the open space, roads, infrastructure and any other amenities, as set forth by the

homeowners' association.

The city has had some issues with PRUDs in the past, especially since the crash of the housing market. A few proposed PRUDs were only partially developed, leaving homeowners with big bills to pay to finish the subdivision, as well as leaving the city holding the bag when residents asked the city for help with unfinished issues left by developers.

Changes include stricter guidelines that increase the density in PRUDs, and a requirement forcing the developer to have all the money for the open space amenities in escrow at the time of development. The open space must also be an active space for all residents of the PRUD to use -- not just extra yard space for residents.

Strict financial guidelines must also be in place for

homeowners before homes are purchased, so there is full disclosure on what the Homeowners' Association fees will be and what they are paying for up front.

The city also requires members of the development to sign off on anything related to the PRUD, rather than just one person.

"We are trying to shore things up on the front end," said Community and Economic Development Director Craig Barker. Barker has been working with the planning commission and the council since early spring on the changes.

Mayor Richard Harris is happy with the changes.

"That was a valuable discussion. We have discussed whether or not to have PRUDs, and we did find they have a necessary place in our community," Harris said.

City Councilman Brent Taylor suggested the city be cautious about allowing itself to get too involved with the Homeowners' Associations. He wants to see those regulations be very strict so the city does not have to be involved unless absolutely necessary.

Former City Attorney Dave Carlson said the ordinance is written so it is a last resort to get involved with the HOAs. New City Attorney Jon Call said he thinks the revisions to the ordinance will work for the city and that problems with PRUDs are widespread across the nation.

Some of the problems that have occurred in North Ogden include not being able to locate the original developer who created the covenants of the HOA, and residents not having a full understanding of the responsibility of belonging to an HOA and then coming to the city for advice and help.

Carlson said there is not a perfect solution.

"A perfect ordinance is only as good as the willingness of the city to enforce it," Carlson said. "Make sure you're not approving something that is doomed to failure."

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