After months of debate between the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association, the residents of Cascadel Woods and Madera County over Cascadel's road maintenance, residents have voted against the county overseeing the maintenance of their four miles of roads.
Cascadel home owner's voted on the matter and the ballots were counted before county supervisors Feb. 12 with an overwhelming 66.4% of the voters against a county-run Road Maintenance District. Just 33.6 % of the 125 votes received were in favor of the district.
The vote now leaves the property owners association to care for the roads like it has been doing since 1963.
"We are very happy with the results of the Prop 218 vote on the Road Maintenance District -- Two-thirds of the voters spoke loud and clear," said Stan Eggink, president of the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association.
District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler was hoping for a different outcome.
"I'm really disappointed and am sorry they didn't pass it because I think the Road Maintenance District would have been a great benefit, but we will work with them how we can to ease their problems," Wheeler said.
The special vote was deemed necessary after the county received some complaints from Cascadel residents on the association's road maintenance activities. When the county began looking into the complaints, they realized there were a number of issues including failing culverts that had been constructed without the association going through the proper county permit process. The county noted there were also unauthorized encroachments. Madera County Road Commissioner Johannes Hoevertsz said there were some other concerns including snow removal and general roadwork that had been done without permits as well as liability issues.
Hoevertsz said it was the above reasons that led his department to issue a cease and desist order to the association Jan. 7, demanding they halt further work on the subdivision roads or culverts or face legal action.
It was then that Wheeler and Hoevertsz held a couple informational meetings in Cascadel on the area becoming a RMD. Later the county sent out Proposition 218 ballots asking residents if they wanted a RMD or not.
Hoevertsz said he was happy that the people of Cascadel were able to vote for whether they wanted Cascadel to become a county-run RMD. The association is responsible to the residents for contracting road maintenance. Hoevertsz said the association will have to begin getting encroachment permits and environmental permits -- procedures they didn't go through in the past.
Because of these prior issues, Hoevertsz said the association is working to learn how to obtain permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Quality Control Board and the county. Hoevertsz said the association will also have to do some corrective work for violations they did and culverts will also have to be repaired.
According to Hoevertsz, in addition to the corrective work, the association is also being forced to pay the county back for some misuse of funds that was noted by the county auditor when going over the association's finances.
"There appears to be anomalies in the way they're spending money," Hoevertsz said.
So far the association has already paid back $3,400 for insurance to the county but still must pay another $3,400 among other fees. The association also set up an office in the clubhouse and did not pay rent.
"There is no contract for the association to be renting office space at the clubhouse and the maintenance contract with the CWPOA has to be terminated," Hoevertsz said.
County staff will go before the Board of Supervisors Feb. 26 to terminate the county's contract with the association for the maintenance of the county owned lots in Cascadel will be brought before the board of supervisors for a vote. A municipal advisory committee -- comprised of Joann Freemire and Jan Quistad -- will be tasked with the responsibility of the maintenance of the district's recreational facilities including its budget and the clubhouse. The residents will only be responsible for road maintenance.
Editor's Note: Read a guest commentary on the issue by Mark Stamas on page B8.