The other day a friend and I were driving down an unpaved street when my friend commented, “I wish the city would pave this street.” Since Betenbough Homes is a community developer as well as a home builder, I relayed to my friend how cities and developers work together to pave streets and construct other infrastructure. Since there seems to be little public understanding of this process, I think it might be constructive to explain what goes into developing a community before homes are built on the land. Just to clarify, this is an explanation of the process in Lubbock, TX, Midland, TX, and Odessa, TX, so it may differ elsewhere.
When Betenbough Homes develops a community, we provide most of the street paving, including curb and gutter, at our expense. This cost then gets passed to our homeowners as part of their homesite, which is the land where the house is built. Also, because a wider group of people use the major streets, the city pays for a portion of these thoroughfares. This makes for a fair arrangement, since the city’s revenue comes from you and me as taxpayers. Community developers also pay for street lights, fire hydrants, stop signs and drainage improvements.
The same rules apply to other infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines. Of course there are some exceptions in which governments may choose to provide some of these facilities at public expense, but, in general, the bulk of infrastructure costs in a neighborhood are paid by the developer of the neighborhood. In all of the cities in which we develop neighborhoods and build our homes, we must pave streets and have water and sewer lines in place before homesite development and building permits are allowed.
As part of the development process, Betenbough Homes hires an engineering firm to configure the drainage system and provide the plans for all street improvements and utility services. The city provides specifications and guidelines for all plans, and the plans must be approved by the city that will be home to the new community.
Philosophically, the general rule is that the people who benefit from the infrastructure should be the people who pick up the tab for the cost of that infrastructure. That’s a fair arrangement, and I concur with it!