Where were City and County Code Inspectors when these subdivisions were built?
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
New subdivisions with homeowners’ associations are often sold to buyers as private communities designed to protect and enhance property values.
In theory, a brand new home in a new subdivision should be easy to maintain, without all the headaches and expense of a fixer-upper in an older neighborhood. The HOA is supposed to enforce high standards that keep the community looking attractive.
But what happens when homes and communities are built without careful attention to important factors that affect health and safety of residents?
What if the infrastructure and property surrounding homes is left to literally crumble and fall apart?
What if homeowners get stuck footing the bill for expensive repairs to their community and their personal property?
Does that enhance property values?
It’s all downhill from here
For example, take a look at the extreme slope of the land behind these single family homes. How could the Township justify approving the development of homes on Forest Lane Drive in Majestic Hills?
Landslide in North Strabane Township threatens to damage homes, forces road closure
KAREN MANSFIELDJun 20, 2018 Updated Jun 20, 2018
A landslide behind some homes in the Majestic Hills community in North Strabane Township resulted in the closing of Forest Lane Drive and has homeowners worried their residences will become uninhabitable.Homeowners attended Tuesday’s nonlegislative meeting of the township supervisors to show photos of a crack in the backyards of four homes that grew in about a week into a 30-foot slide.
The township closed Forest Lane Drive because trees and dirt from the slide has made it impassable.
North Strabane Township officials visited the plan earlier Tuesday. Business manager Andrew Walz said township representatives planned to meet Wednesday with residents, the homeowners association and the developer, Ryan Homes, to determine a remediation plan.
Not only does the landslide threaten the safety of homeowners in Majestic Hills, it also affects taxpayers of North Strabane Township, because the landslide threatens one of the town’s roads.
For video coverage of the gravity of the problem, see the following Pittsburgh CBS Local report. Here we learn from homeowners that landslides in the 200-home neighborhood, built by Ryan Homes, have been an ongoing problem for years.
So far, no lawsuit has been filed, according to the report. But how long will homeowners have to wait for Township leaders and the developer to take responsibility for their safety and their declining property values?
Landslide threatening several homes in Washington County
CANONSBURG (KDKA) — A nasty landslide is threatening homesin Washington County. The hillside has been deteriorating for a while, but this week, it got worse.
Now, the homeowners are now trying to figure out what’s next.
One home on Majestic Drive in North Strabane Township appears to be most threatened by a landslide. KDKA-TV’s Julie Grant went to the door and the homeowner respectfully declined to speak on camera, only saying the slide has been getting worse and Ryan Homes recently removed their back deck because of it.
Read more (video):
Homes built on ‘quicksand?’
Meanwhile, in Florida, another condo owner worries her home will become part of the canal behind her home.
WINK News video shows how close some waterfront homes are to a crumbling sea wall. Sea wall damage occurred last fall, during Hurricane Irma. But the homeowners’ association still has not repaired it, and, with recent rains, even more sandy soil has eroded away from the shoreline.
Understandably, the homeowner is concerned about saving her home, as well as her personal safety.
Sea wall crumbles just feet away from Naples home
Reporter: Olivia Mancino
Writer: Emily Ford
Published:June 20, 2018 8:46 PM EDT
Updated:June 20, 2018 11:14 PM EDT
Nine months after Hurricane Irma and one Naples resident is still begging her homeowner association to fix her crumbling seawall.
“My bedroom is right here,” said Naples resident Alessandra Panella. “I can’t sleep at night because I hear crackling noises.”
Panella says she’s going to end up floating on her mattress in the canal if the giant hole caused by her cracking sea wall doesn’t get patched up soon.
“It is very dangerous,” Panella said. “I am, I don’t know, 2-feet from the disaster.”
Panella says that it wasn’t this bad when Hurricane Irma hit, but a little bit chips away every day.
Read more (video):
Panella says she’d fix the seawall herself, if she could. But the seawall is common property, so individual property owners have no control over when — or if — repairs will be made.
The unfortunate homeowner says that she even contacted County officials for assistance, but, so far, nothing has been done to stop the erosion of sandy soil behind her home, in an unidentified private community in East Naples.
The situation appears to be another case of blame shifting among the parties involved: the HOA, builders of the home and seawall, and the County officials who approved these canal homes in the first place.
Potholes make 15-year ‘temporary’ road a hazard
Back in northeastern Pennsylvania, owners of homes in Quail Hill subdivision are stuck with unfinished roads, and uncooperative local officials, who refuse to assist the HOA — despite the fact that the Township, two boroughs, and the Luzerne County Planning Commission somehow allowed the developer to construct roads without the proper permits.
That’s right. Despite all those layers of government, no one managed to oversee the development of Quail Hill, and now homeowners are stuck with poor quality roads.
Pittston Township faces lawsuit over roads
JAMES HALPIN / PUBLISHED: JUNE 21, 2018 (The Times-Tribune)
PITTSTON TWP. — A local homeowners association has filed suit over the quality of roads in a township subdivision.
The Q.H. Homeowners Association filed suit Wednesday against Pittston Twp., as well as the boroughs of Dupont and Avoca, the Luzerne County Planning Commission, and the administrator of the estates of developer Alvin and Beulah Rothstein.
The complaint alleges the township should have prevented construction of Quail Hill Drive and the Cambridge Drive extension because The Quail Hill Co. and Alvin Rothstein did not have the proper permission to build them. The developers failed to fully construct the roads, resulting in streets that are “incredibly dangerous, unsafe, and wholly defective,” the lawsuit alleges.
Back in March, WNEP-TV did an investigative report on Quail Hill. According to numerous people interviewed for the report, Quail Hill’s developer constructed temporary roads 15 years ago. The hilly roads were also supposed to have street lights.
According to the development plan, permanent roads were to be completed after the construction phase, and then the roads would be transferred to the HOA that governs the upscale community.
But the developer, Alan Rothstein, died in 2012, before construction of permanent roads could be completed, and before street lights could be installed. The executors of the estate say there’s not enough money to do the unfinished work.
Unfortunately, Pittston Township had failed to require a bond to cover the cost of road construction. The Township’s attorney says that, because Quail Hill is a private community, it has no responsibility to build permanent roads.
To complicate matters, portions of Quail Hill straddle Dupont and Avoca Boroughs.
See the video to get a better idea of just how bad these roads are.
Quagmire at Quail Hill
POSTED 5:50 PM, MARCH 29, 2018, BY DAVE BOHMAN
UPDATED AT 06:18PM, MARCH 29, 2018
LUZERNE COUNTY — Imagine spending your life’s savings on a dream home, only to have a real tough time getting to and from that home.
That’s the situation in part of Luzerne County.
Quail Hill homeowners are crying for help. They say they need more than pothole repair; they need new permanent roads because the temporary ones are falling apart.
Rich Hanson is one of many homeowners at the Quail Hill subdivision near Pittston who say walking is safer than driving.
“You have to literally drive to the other side of the road into oncoming traffic to avoid these holes,” Hansen said. “We can’t enjoy our own community because we can’t use the roads.”
“I actually have to drive on the opposite side of the road every time I come up here to avoid every hole,” said Phyllis Ockerman.
Read more (Video):
The remaining undeveloped lots in Quail Hill are currently listed for sale, with a price tag of $2.5 million. So far, no interested buyers, and no light at the end of the tunnel for homeowners.