By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Thirty Cincinnati area condo owners fear they might lose their homes, due to a dangerous landslide within a few feet of their hillside homes.
But if the condo association can figure out how save threatened homes, all members of the condo association will have to share the cost of stabilizing the hillside, plus repairing any structural damages to at least one condo building.
Heavy rainfall erodes hillside
Drenching weekend rains caused flooding and landslides in the Cincinnati area and northern Kentucky, including the evacuation of some relatively new condominiums in Harrison.
Kyle Sabol and his wife are first time homeowners. They and 13 other families were evacuated at 2:30 AM on June 16th, after the local firedepartment condemned their building at Heritage Square Legacy Condos.
Laurie Caminiti, another resident of Legacy Condos, began documenting hillside erosion in February with photos on her cellphone. But some residents tell local news reporters that mudslides began as early as December 2018.
For months, concerned homeowners and residents have reported the erosion to their HOA. Then in May, the association reportedly made temporary repairs. Unfortunately, with the first heavy rainfall, the sand and gravel was washed away.
Residents reported the ongoing problem, but the HOA did not take further action to stop the erosion. Now the gaping hillside hole is bigger than ever, exposing utility lines.
Who’s to blame for the dangerous landslide?
Homeowner Tom Renken blames Fischer Homes for shoddy workmanship. He tells WVXU News that the condo sits on a gravel pit (mine), on footers that are “too short.”
Developer Fischer Homes transferred control of the Association to homeowners in 2010. A representative from Fischer Homes says that, other than offering technical support, it’s up to the homeowners association to remedy problems with storm water drainage, erosion, and damages to condo property.
No help from the Harrison Township
According to a report in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Harrison Mayor William Neyer said the township won’t get involved either, since the landslide originates on private property.
In the area surrounding Legacy Condos, the Metropolitan Sewer District, which includes Harrison Township, is also dealing with hundreds of reports of sewage backups as a result of flooding rains.
Clearly, the region has more than its share of infrastructure defects, both publicly and privately maintained.
Another temporary fix, potential lawsuit ahead
According to WLWT 5 report, Legacy condo association board members would not allow local news media to attend a Tuesday night Association meeting to discuss the landslide.
Some owners told reporters, off camera, that they expect a long legal battle with the developer.
During the closed meeting, condo owners also learned that they’d be on the hook to pay $100,000 to their HOA for yet another temporary repair of the large sinkhole behind Building 13.
The HOA board reportedly approved an engineer recommended by Fischer Homes to make repairs.
It’s unknown if the engineer approved to make repairs was the same engineer who supervised and signed off on original construction of Legacy Condominiums.
First-time homebuyer nightmare
Most Legacy Condo owners interviewed by local media are young adults and couples, some of them with small children. Their condo is their first home.
Legacy condominiums are affordably-priced in the low $100s. Most of the units are between 10 and 15 years old.
For condo owners facing expensive infrastructure repairs, condo fees are certain to increase substantially in the near future. And for dozens of displaced residents — who must continue to pay their mortgage, taxes, insurance, and HOA fees — life just got a whole lot more expensive. ♦
Residents forced out by landslide want answers
Posted: 4:59 PM, Jun 17, 2019 Updated: 7:51 PM, Jun 17, 2019
By Evan Millward, WCPO 9, Cincinnati
After Heavy Rains, Harrison Condo Owners Gather Belongings And Get Out
By ANN THOMPSON, WVXU • JUN 17, 2019 (Audio podcast)
Harrison residents evacuated after landslide, MSD investigating sewer backups
Cameron Knight, Sarah Brookbank and Sheila Vilvens, Cincinnati Enquirer Published 1:34 p.m. ET June 18, 2019 | Updated 3:53 p.m. ET June 18, 2019
Dozens displaced by Harrison Township landslide
By Lauren Artino | June 17, 2019 at 12:06 AM EDT – Updated June 18 at 5:54 PM
Residents push for answers as sinkhole behind Harrison condos grows
Neighbors at meeting say another temporary fix apparently coming
Dan Griffin, WLWT 5, Updated: 11:45 PM EDT Jun 18, 2019