NORTH FORK – The residents of Cascadel Woods have voted against having Madera County establish a Road Maintenance District (RMD) in their community.
At their regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Madera County Board of Supervisors heard the results of the Proposition 218 election wherein the residents of Cascadel voted down the proposed RMD, with 82 votes against, and 43 in support. The vote means that the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association (CWPOA) will continue to plow, repair and maintain the county roads in their area.The area known as “Cascadel,” near the community of North Fork, is a former, historic 480-acre ranch where development began in 1957. While publicly dedicated, its approximately 4-mile road system is not county maintained.
After being petitioned in 2012 by some of Cascadel’s residents, the County agreed to consider the formation of an RMD, and to levy a charge to each lot for road maintenance services. The County committed resources and prepared an Engineer’s Report outlining costs and services in November of 2012.
This has been a contentious issue throughout the Cascadel community, with some wanting the County to take over road maintenance, and others wanting to maintain what they see as the historical and rural character of the area, and take care of things themselves, as they have done for over 50 years.
With this vote, the CWPOA will be allowed to continue managing themselves, but the County has issues with how they have gone about that in the past.
One problem brought up by Board of Supervisors Chairman Max Rodriguez is the fact that the CWPOA has not been securing permits to do work on the roads in Cascadel.
Ken Wood, one-year resident of Cascadel and recently elected treasurer of the CWPOA, told the Board that the reason they haven’t pulled permits in the past is that, “We were never told we were required to. Many contractors we spoke to said the road work had already been done, and it was just repairs. The County told us the same thing. There is some dispute as to how many permits we needed and if we actually needed them.”
Supervisor Rodriguez also raised concerns about any potential cost or liability to the County, and the expenditure of county resources. Addressing Road Commissioner Johannes Hoevertsz, he said, “You and your staff are using time working with people who don’t want you guys intereferring with their lives up there.”
Hoevertsz told the Board that the CWPOA would need to get an encroachment permit, at which time they would address the issues of insurance, liability and proper contractors to do the work.
“The association will have to change the way they’ve been doing business,” said Hoevertsz. “They [the CWPOA] have a problem with the County requiring that an authorized, knowledgeable person be performing the snow plowing and contracting. I’m concerned that we don’t want a fly-by-night operation plowing any county road. If you’re going to subcontract with the County, we want you to have subcontracting ability, and the ability to be bonded. When you have a contractor’s license you know about business, bonding and insurance. To have it any other way would be unsafe for the public.”
Wood told the Board, “We have been plowing the roads for over 50 years. I don’t know anybody better to plow those roads than the person who’s been doing it for the last 30 or 40 years.”
“We’d like to see an agency that’s authorized do the maintenance on the roads so they can be safer,” said Hoevertsz. “We’ll be working with them in the future. This is probably not the end of what we will hear from Cascadel.