Anything outside units (townhouses) is considered common ground and is the responsibility of the HOA. However we have learned pipes running underground direct from units to the street hook up are the responsibility of the homeowner. But in some instances those pipes previously connect to multiple units. How do we access responsibility?

This question cannot be answered without looking at the wording of the documents.
Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel PC
Stephen Buschmann
151 N. Delaware St.
Suite 1900
Indianapolis IN 46204-2505
(317) 686-4773
This is a difficult one to answer without looking at the governing
documents.  Generally the documents provide that utilities are unit owner
responsibility from the meter in and common element or limited common
elements from the main to the meter.  In this case I would say that those
connecting directly from the main to the unit are owner responsibility as
per the facts in the inquiry.  Where more than one unit is connected I would
say that it is association responsibility up to where it branches off to
individual units and owner responsibility from that point to the unit.  

Kenneth D. Roth, Esq.
Marchetti Law, P.C.
900 N.Kings Highway, Suite 306
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Tel: 856-824-1001

If there is no question as to responsibility for repair/replacement of the pipes (i.e., it is an owner expense), then the only question is what to do if a pipe serves more than one unit. I would suggest that if the damaged area is in the portion between the street and the Y (where it splits to go to more than one unit), then both units sharing the main pipe are responsible. If, however, the damages area is after the Y, then only the unit at the end of the pipe is responsible.

Sara A. Austin
Austin Law Firm LLC
226 E. Market St.
York, PA 17403
717.846.2246 phone
717.846.2248 fax

The answer lies in the language of your governing documents. They are not all the same, and the answer to your question can turn on a word or a phrase.  In general, “common elements” are things shared in “common”, such that the Association is justified in assessing “common expenses” to maintain them.  So you are correct that GENERALLY, if a pipe becomes a shared element at a certain point, it is GENERALLY, going to become a common element, but not always.  The wording of the governing documents, to which all parties agreed when they accepted title to their Units, controls.
Griffin Alexander PC
Robert C. Griffin, Esq.
415 Route 10
2nd Floor
Randolph NJ 07869-2100
(973) 366-1188