Holding Developers to Their Promises CARROLL COUNTY

January 20, 1993

Residents of Mount Airy's Village in Tall Oaks development have a right to be mad. When they bought their houses, the developer promised landscaping, tot lots and maintenance of common areas. Four years after some of the residents bought their houses, they are still waiting.

The litany of complaints against the developer, Jim Frey of Frall Development, and Vincent Trombetta, the builder of the 121-house project, is further indication that town and county governments have to do a better job of policing residential developers and builders. All too often, developers make extravagant promises, such as installing pools and recreational buildings, in order to win approval for their developments. They then use the promise of these amenities to sell their houses.

All too often, developers finish work on the homes, which generate revenue for them, and delay the improvements, which cost them money, until last. The developers of The Greens, a 700-house development in Westminster, took that route when they never bothered to bring the storm water management system up to city standards or finish building the subdivision's sidewalks.

Most jurisdictions require developers to post bonds or letters of credit to ensure that all the promised public improvements are made. In the case of the Village at Tall Oaks, there is a $20,000 bond posted with the town. Tall Oaks residents want that bond used to finish the uncompleted amenities. In the case of The Greens, the Westminster city officials allowed a letter of credit -- in the form of a performance bond -- to lapse in 1989.

Local officials should require developers to meet deadlines for public infrastructure and amenities -- and to seize performance bonds when the developers ignore their agreements. Officials should approve the transfer of playgrounds, storm water systems and other improvements from the developers to the towns or homeowners' associations. If there are problems, that would be the appropriate time to collect from the performance bonds.

The failure of developers to build what they promised means that either the homeowners or the taxpayers get saddled with the bill. That is not right. Until public officials get tougher with developers, there will be more instances like those at the Village of Tall Oaks and The Greens.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.