Storm system at Pilgrim's Ridge may soon be fixed

December 31, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Residents of the Pilgrim's Ridge subdivision in North Laurel had something to be thankful for over the holidays, although they probably didn't know it.

After residents waited for more than six years for their development's storm water management system to be finished, Howard County officials may have found money to complete the work.

When the developer of the community failed to complete the project's infrastructure, county officials tried to get the bonding company that secured the project, International Fidelity Insurance Co. of Newark, N.J., to pay for the unfinished work in 1991. The company balked, and out-of-court legal wrangling has continued ever since.

In May, after an article about the troubles appeared in The Sun, County Executive Charles I. Ecker and County Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, visited the development and looked at the debris-cluttered storm water management pond and the spring that bubbles up in the middle of a parking area.

Residents were told that an agreement was near with the bonding company and work could begin within a month.

During the eight months since, the only work done has been by lawyers and others representing the county, developer John W. Steffey Sr. and International Fidelity.

bTC "They had the bonding company out there, they've had engineers out there, they've had contractors out there, but there's been no physical work," said John Burke, a spokesman for Property Management Resources, the company that runs the homeowners association for the community of 70 town houses.

Now there is hope that International Fidelity will agree to complete the work, said F. Todd Taylor Jr., senior assistant county solicitor.

"It's close enough that the bonding company's real interested in getting it done," he said.

What broke an impasse in negotiations was Mr. Steffey's agreement to sign away his claim to a $78,000 rebate from the county for hooking up sewer and water lines, Mr. Taylor said.

The money should take care of the remaining work on the development, Mr. Taylor said, provided International Fidelity agrees to use the money for that purpose.

Officials of the bonding company and International Fidelity's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, residents continue to put up with persistent side effects of the unfinished work.

"When it freezes, there's a path of ice in front of the houses, and that's the same as it has been for the past three years," said Barry Lincoln, a member of the First Ridge Homeowners Association board of directors.

First Ridge is the legal name of the development, which is commonly known and was marketed as Pilgrim's Ridge.

"With the recent snow and ice storms, [county Public Works Director] Jim Irvin has at least directed the county to come in and plow and sand the roads where necessary," Mr. Burke said.

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