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Monroe County Wants To Restart Zombie Developments

An aerial view of an unfinished development off Strain Ridge Rd. Officials say many zombie developments are high end neighborhoods where banks are not willing to give mortgages for expensive homes.

You see them all around Monroe County, especially near Monroe Lake: un-built subdivisions sitting for years with mostly empty lots. The county wants to re-start construction on these often forgotten development projects.

“Zombie subdivisions, subdivisions that were built, and have not been able to sell lots off,” explains Monroe County Planning Director Larry Wilson, describing an industry term for plots of land that a developer has built some infrastructure around, but aren’t complete because lots have not sold. But a few homes in the subdivision usually are occupied, so the county has to pay for extending services to those people.

County Assistant Planning Director Jason Eakin says projects are often so underdeveloped the county can’t even take over the infrastructure.

“One roads get to such a bad condition sometimes school buses don’t want to drive down them, you worry about mail delivery, you worry about some of those other things, plus they are not being maintained by the county highway department until they are up to a certain standard,” he says.

Wilson says some developers have gone bankrupt or are too small to finish roads or utility work. However, he says, the county does not have the money to come in and complete the neighborhoods itself.

“It’s a huge financial expenditure, and we don’t have any way to gain the additional money to make up the gap between the bond, and the cost to finish the subdivision,” he says.

The county planning department is partnering with Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs to collect more data on zombie developments and attempt to encourage development.

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