By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Another Buyer Beware warning: know the sinkhole risk for the land of your new neighborhood.
Buyers may assume that city and county governments would never allow a developer to build homes on limestone-rich soil that is prone to sudden collapse sinkholes.
After all, some of Florida’s sinkholes are large enough to swallow up vehicles and entire homes, lead to extensive property loss and, sometimes, even loss of human life.
Add Florida’s Sinkhole Alley to that list.
When sinkholes opens up, private property owners and, in many cases, homeowners’ and condominium associations, are stuck with the expense of filling in the voids and repairing damage to homes and condos.
Homeowners may be able to purchase insurance for “sudden collapse” sinkholes, but, if you can find an insurance company willing to add a sinkhole rider to your homeowner’s policy, it’s pricey, at an additional $3,000 – $4,000 per year.
And don’t count on insurance to cover the cost to repair structural cracks and foundation settling caused by a sinkhole, because most homeowner’s policies exclude coverage for damage that occurs gradually over time. So if your home remains safe enough to reside in, your insurer may deny your claim.
If a sinkhole leaves a crater in your community park, or drains one of the homeowner association’s retention ponds, prepare for expensive repair costs, and, most likely, a special assessment.
In short, residential communities in Florida’s Sinkhole Alley provide no particular benefit to housing consumers. Instead, overdevelopment of the area exposes its residents to numerous risks.
So why do elected officials continue to permit new home construction in Sinkhole Alley?
Two words: tax revenue. Specifically, new construction increases the property tax rolls for municipalities and counties, and creates additional consumer spending. Because Florida has no state income tax, property and sales tax must cover the costs of public services to the state’s growing population.
Plus, virtually all new residential construction in the Florida is a common interest community funded and governed by a private corporate homeowners or condominium association, and, quite often, one or more Special Districts, such as a Community Development District.
The layered governance structure creates additional taxes for property owners, over an above municipal, county, and school taxes.
Keep in mind that homeowners in association-governed communities are also paying de facto taxes in the form of HOA, condo, or co-op assessments, to cover what would otherwise be government services: maintenance of community infrastructure, private neighborhood security, community code enforcement of restrictive covenants, and recreational amenities.
New development generates billions of tax dollars for local governments and the state of Florida. Meanwhile, housing and economic development policies pass an increasing share of financial responsibility and risk to private property owners and residents.
Today’s source articles:
Additional sinkholes open in Ocala
At least a dozen sinkholes force evacuations in Florida neighborhood
By Manuel Bojorquez, CBS News, May 2, 2018 6:46 PM
OCALA, Fla.— At least a dozen sinkholes have opened up in a central Florida subdivision over the past week, enough to drain an entire retention pond and force the evacuation of eight nearby homes as a precaution.
“We’ve been dealing with so much, scared to death to lose our house right now,” said one neighbor in Ocala.
Crews are using underground radar that penetrates 80 to 100 feet down to figure out a fix.
“It gets bigger every day. How far is this going to get, how big is it going to get and nobody is telling us anything,” said Christina Carter, who moved to the area from Vermont last summer.
Read more (Video):
Sinkhole fiasco’ plagues Florida neighborhood, as a dozen holes open in the ground
May 02, 2018 12:05 PM
Updated May 02, 2018 12:45 PM
For residents of an Ocala neighborhood that had been forced to evacuate last week due to sinkholes, it seems terra firma has it in for them.
Two more sinkholes opened up in that same neighborhood Tuesday, bringing the number to 12 plaguing the Fore Ranch community recently in this Central Florida city of nearly 60,000 residents.
Cars, swallowed whole, have sunk into gaping maws as if on a disaster movie set.
Possible sinkholes drain retention pond in Ocala neighborhood
OCALA, Fla. – City officials are hoping to find out more about the two dozen possible sinkholes that have opened up in an Ocala neighborhood.
The holes have been forming around a retention pond in the Wynchase at Fore Ranch subdivision this week. The pond was drained overnight when more holes opened.
The homeowners’ association in 2012 paid thousands to fill sinkholes. Officials say it could cost more this time. They said the holes can’t be filled until they know the ground has settled.
Sinkhole FAQ, Florida Department of Environmental Protection