Homeowners struggle to get work finished Developer, builder meet with council SOUTHWEST--Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

January 08, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

First-time homeowner Laurie Hager found affordable housing in Mount Airy, but living in the Village of Tall Oaks has proved to be a costly civics lesson for her in time spent.

For at least four years, Ms. Hager and other residents of the 121-home town house development off Route 144 have been struggling to have unfinished projects, such as landscaping and tot lots, completed.

"I never imagined I'd be on the board of directors of a homeowners association when I moved in here," said Ms. Hager, who formerly rented in Mount Airy. "It certainly wasn't something that was planned. I didn't anticipate needing a civics lesson."

Besides spending time on more mundane issues such as maintaining common green areas, the homeowner association has had to wrestle with getting the developer or the builder to finish planting trees and shrubs.

In some instances, the association has completed work on its own. The group built a tot lot and paid for signs at the entrance of the development.

"These are not things we should have to deal with," Ms. Hager said. "We're volunteers. Most of us who are active are involved in other areas of the community. We'd like to spend more time on community service that benefits the town and not just the development."

At issue is who is responsible for completing the unfinished projects.

Residents and the Town Council have been trying to determine whether the responsibility lies with developer Jim Frey of Frall Development or Vincent Trombetta, the builder.

Members of the non-profit group, The Village of Tall Oaks Homeowners Association Inc., met with representatives of the developer and builder in a closed session with the Town Council Monday night.

Council President R. Delaine Hobbs declined yesterday to comment on the closed session, which was held with the town's legal counsel after the council's regular monthly meeting. But he acknowledged that the problems at the Village of Tall Oaks have been continuing.

Neither Mr. Frey nor Mr. Trombetta could be reached for comment yesterday.

"The council has some homework to do," Ms. Hager said. "I think something has got to happen. This has been going on long enough."

The association has asked the Town Council "to exercise its authority" and have the builder or developer finish the work. The group wants fencing around sediment control ponds; missing fencing erected; problems with an underground spring corrected a sidewalk is not continually flooded or covered with algae; and landscaping completed.

In addition, Ms. Hager said that the group wants the developer to reimburse the association $5,000 for the tot lot and regrade another tot lot site to make it suitable for playground equipment.

Ms. Hager said that the association also wants to be included in the council's negotiations with the developer and builder.

"The past four years have been wrought with frustration for the homeowners of the Village of Tall Oaks, as we have attempted communication with the builder, developer and the town of Mount Airy to answer questions and solve remaining problems," Ms. Hager said in a prepared statement to the council at the Monday night meeting.

The homeowner association drafted a detailed list of uncompleted work in November 1990. However, the group had discussed the problems with the builder and a management company that initially administered the homeowner association before then.

On occasion, the Town Council has intervened and met with the builder. The town, for instance, persuaded the developer to remove trash containers from the fronts of homes a few years ago.

Mr. Hobbs told the homeowners Monday night that Mr. Trombetta had promised that he would pay the association $12,000 to fix the problems and use the remaining $8,000 of his $20,000 bond to correct landscaping deficiencies.

However, Ms. Hager said that the builder told the association that the $8,000 for landscaping must come out of the $12,000 he would give the homeowners.

The builder's representative said that that would be clarified.

The homeowner association just wants the work done, Ms. Hager said.

She said that as a result of the meeting Monday, she "expects something to happen soon."

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