By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Homebuyers often assume that a new neighborhood development will be free from defects such as infrastructure failure.
Consumers often pay a premium price for the advantages of new construction: an attractive community with smooth roads, and good drainage to prevent flooding & erosion. They expect their new or nearly new home to be built upon a solid foundation.
Many hold onto the naive belief that local government would never allow developers and home builders to sell real estate in new communities with sub par infrastructure.
But lax regulation and an absence of serious oversight leads directly to infrastructure failure, causing expensive headaches and oodles of stress for homeowners.
Four examples of HOA infrastructure failure
Landslide destroys three homes in suburban Pittsburgh
IAC first posted about Majestic Hills in June (see HOA residents stuck with safety hazards)
Since that time, three damaged homes at the top of the steep hillside on Oakwood Drive had to be demolished. North Strabane Township is reportedly spending ‘millions’ to stabilize the site of the catastrophic landslide.
The Township intends to file a legal claim against the developer to recover its upfront costs using taxpayer dollars.
Owners of one property are threatening a lawsuit against Majestic Hills’ developers, home builders, engineers, homeowners’ association, and Strabane Township.
Homeowners blame ‘defective construction,’ and the Township’s lack of oversight during development of the community.
However, Township Manager Andrew Walz blames developer Joe DeNardo for failure to oversee the construction of an effective stormwater control system. Walz says the soil on the steep terrain should have been properly compacted. He blames the entire development and construction team for a ‘complete lack of oversight’ on the project.
As usual, the finger pointing and blame shifting has begun, with no one willing to accept responsibility for a major infrastructure failure.
The court requires the parties to attempt mediation before filing a lawsuit. Homeowners say they just want to be made whole on the loss of their property. Their legal battle has likely just begun.
Attorney files suit against Majestic Hills developer, North Strabane and others
Barbara Miller Oct 18, 2018
An attorney acting on behalf of a North Strabane Township couple whose Majestic Hills home was demolished earlier this month due to a landslide filed suit in Washington County Court against the township and several entities and individuals.
Attorney Frank Kosir Jr.,who is also a Peters Township councilman, filed the writ on behalf of his clients, Douglas E. and Suzanne Grimes.
The writ, which initiates a suit, does not include a complaint with specific allegations but names “defective construction” as the reason for the filing.
The Grimeses named as defendants Majestic Hills LLC; JND Properties; Joseph N. DeNardo, individually and doing business as JND Properties LLC; his wife, Shari DeNardo; a Northern Virginia-based builder NVR Inc.,doing business as Ryan Homes; Gateway Engineers Inc.; North Strabane Township; Pennsylvania Soil and Rock, Inc., which performed geotechnical and earthwork monitoring at the site, and its employee, Mark R. Brashear; Alton Industries, Inc. of Somerset Township; Majestic Hills Homeowners Association Inc.; John W. McCombs and Diana G. McCombs; Jeffrey S. Swarek and his wife, Christine L. Swarek; and Jeanne E. Hecht.
An earlier report notes that North Strabane Township has already paid for emergency work at Majestic Hills, including a retaining wall to stabilize the hillside that threatens homes and a public road.
Lack of oversight to blame for landslides, says North Strabane Township
Trista Thurston Oct 7, 2018 Updated Oct 7, 2018
North Strabane Township manager Andrew Walz said Sunday evening a complete lack of oversight has led to the landslides at the Majestic Hills development.
The Majestic Hills homeowners association held a meeting at the township’s municipal building to update residents on the situation. Though they allowed nearby residents that don’t live in the Majestic Hills plan to sit in on the initial information portion and leave for the official HOA meeting, members of the media were barred from the talk as a whole.
Stormwater floods damage family’s dream home
Brighton, Colorado, is a town with a history of stormwater infrastructure failure. Check out this 2016 video taken by homeowners of Brighton Crossing. Yep, the roads actually turn into rivers when it rains.
In another part of town, over at The Preserve, an unlucky family purchased two pond-view homes two years ago — one home for the couple and their children, and second especially for a grandmother.
But it didn’t take them long to discover that their lovely pond view comes with a curse. It, too, floods when the rain pours.
Not surprisingly, at the time they purchased the homes, the buyers were not told that the pond is supposed to serve as stormwater retention. (That is, if it were built correctly.)
The homeowners have notified Meritage Home Builders and the City of Brighton of the flooding problem. The City dismisses the infrastructure failure as the HOA’s problem. So the HOA recently filed a lawsuit against the developer.
Because of the flooding, excessive moisture collects on the homeowners’ property. As you can see from the Denver7 video linked below, the homeowners now have sinkholes in their yard and cracks in their home’s foundation.
So much for living the dream.
Cracked foundation and sinkholes: Brighton couple says dream home is a nightmare
5:56 PM, Oct 1, 2018
5:56 PM, Oct 1, 2018
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BRIGHTON, Colo. — It was their dream home with a view of the pond. A young family relocated from California to a brand new home in Brighton. But they’re ready to pull the plug because of constant issues from a nearby retention pond.
Danielle Weaver and her husband moved into The Preserve, part of the Meritage Homes Community, about two years ago. They were even able to purchase the lot next door and build a home for grandma.
“That was something we were interested in because we wanted my mother to be close to her kids,” said Weaver.
Those were the selling points for the Weavers when they decided to move into The Preserve.
They thought what they had established in Brighton was going to be permanent, until that pond became a real problem and started flooding.
Read more (video):
Developer dumps unfinished, crumbling roads on HOA
According to the following report, construction began in Western Shores at Kentucky Lake subdivision in 2005. Calloway County required the developer, Kentucky Land Partners (KLP), to put up a surety bond to guarantee constructions of roads for the planned 600-home development.
Homes didn’t sell as quickly as planned, and KLP apparently convinced someone from the County to reduce the bond. the money was ultimately returned to KLP in 2010. But at the time, the roads were only half completed with a base layer and no top layer or seal coat.
The developer maintained control of the HOA for many years. In 2017, the developer-appointed board apparently arranged for unbuilt lots and unfinished roads to be transferred to the homeowners association.
Sneaky, but a common strategy to shift responsibility from the developer to homeowners.
So now a volunteer HOA board and current Western Shores homeowners are stuck with 12-year old roads in poor condition. Neither the County nor the developer has been willing to do anything about the infrastructure failure.
Because the developer has no money, the HOA is suing the County for releasing the bond before the roads were completed. The HOA reportedly seeks $1.6 million in damages. The HOA demands that the County complete the roads and then accept them for future maintenance.
Dispute near the lake; Lawsuit alleges mishandling of Western Shores subdivision by county, land developer
PARKER FRANKLIN • firstname.lastname@example.org Sep 21, 2018
CALLOWAY COUNTY – A $1.6 million lawsuit has been filed against Calloway County Judge-Executive Larry Elkins, current and former magistrates, a land developer and members of a property owners association claiming those entities were negligent in allegedly abandoning a subdivision project and improperly handling a bond.
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 14 in Calloway County Circuit Court by Western Shores’ legal representation, Wyatt, Tarrant, and Combs. It claims that Elkins and other county officials began planning with Kentucky Land Partners in 2005 to develop the Western Shores subdivision at Kentucky Lake, then failed to deliver, leaving the subdivision’s roads unmaintained, unfinished and degrading.
Homeowner’s backyard fence falling into stormwater pond
In the 5-year-old Mossy Oaks Subdivision, Ascension Parish, Louisiana, infrastructure failure is apparent in shoreline erosion along a stormwater pond.
In the video below, note how close homeowner property lines are to the water’s edge of the pond. This appears to be another case of inadequate soil compaction, resulting in severe erosion.
Homeowner Luke Langlois had to relocate a portion of his fence, as the soil continues to fall away from the rear portion of his property.
Once again, the local government (Ascension Parish) informs the homeowner that this is the HOA’s problem. And the developer isn’t exactly rushing in to fix the problem.
So far, the homeowner is getting no satisfaction from his HOA. Hopefully, the HOA won’t try to dump the repair costs of its failing infrastructure on Langlois.
Detention pond gobbling up land in Gonzales neighborhood
September 19, 2018 5:21 PM in News Source: WBRZ By: Brittany Weiss
GONZALES – A couple of homeowners are having a property issue in a relatively new subdivision in Ascension Parish.
Mossy Oaks Subdivision, off Babin Road, was built in the last five years. Luke Langlois moved into the neighborhood about two years ago and has enjoyed it, up until a week ago when his next-door neighbor knocked on his door.
“Neighbor knocked on my door saying that the area behind our yard had fallen into the pond,” said Langlois. “I couldn’t believe it.”
The land just behind Langlois fence has slumped into the detention pond behind the house. It happened overnight Friday, September 7, after a hard rain. Right now, it’s only affecting a couple of homeowners, but residents fear it could get worse. Dollar signs are flashing in front of Langlois’ eyes.
“I would assume it would be a lot of money,” he said.