A number of Raleigh homeowners got less than they bargained for when they purchased homes in the John’s Point & Ashworth subdivisions, and on Tuesday sought redress from City Council.
Ashworth’s developer, Centex, now Centex-Pulte, is alleged to have improperly installed a number of stormwater control devices, the repairs and renovations of for which the homeowner’s association is now on the hook. DLM Developers, which was behind John’s Pointe, went out of business before it finished paving about 7,200 linear feet of neighborhood streets.
Michael Dydula, a civil engineer and member of the Ashworth Homeowners Association, told Councilors that the HOA had been receiving a number of violation notices from the city for various storm water issues.
“It’s saying we’re out of compliance, but a lot of storm water devices were never installed correctly from day one,” Dydula said.
While the HOA would be happy to pay for normal wear-and-tear related repairs and upgrades, he said, they should not be stuck with the bill for devices that never worked right in the first place. Attempts to reach an agreement with Centex-Pulte, Dydula said, were unsuccessful. Calls by the Record to Centex-Pulte were not returned in time for publication.
Although there is money in an escrow account – about $350,000 – that could be used to make some the necessary fixes, Dydula said the lowest estimates for repairs come in at about $425,000.
“We’re supposed to get that money back only if we’re in compliance, but I don’t know what we’re supposed to be in compliance to,” he said.
Some Councilors expressed concern over the precedent that could be set by the city becoming involved in this particular case.
Mayor McFarlane said these kinds of issues are not uncommon, acknowledging, “We have developers that leave substandard storm water devices.”
The Council referred the case to the Public Works committee for further review.
The residents of John’s Pointe – more than a dozen of whom turned out at Tuesday’s evening meeting – had been left with a different kind of problem, one for which they will be forced to bear the entire cost.
As the developer had never installed the final one-inch layer of asphalt on several of the subdivision’s streets, the city will now be undertaking the project – and sending the bill to property owners.
One homeowner, Sumayyah Arrington, told the Council that the city should have better safeguards in place for homeowners so this type of incident does not happen again.
Describing the ordeal she and others in the Southeast Raleigh neighborhood have endured, Arrington said, “We thought we were living the American Dream, but it’s turning into a nightmare.”
Other residents said they felt as though they were being “punished” for being homeowners, and that the taxes they pay should be enough to cover the roadwork, or at least earn them a discount on the repairs.
Once the city has selected a contractor and the work has been completed, the cost will be assessed and charged as a lien against the property owners on a per lot basis.
Councilors said this is less expensive than having the homeowners solicit a contractor to do the repairs on their own.
Prior to the adoption of the ordinance allowing the city to manage such projects, there was little recourse to be had for so-called “orphan streets” – private roads that are left unfinished by developers.
Council voted to move forward with the John’s Pointe improvements, with 100 percent of the costs, likely to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, passed along to homeowners.