Pilgrim's Ridge residents losing patience Drainage problems are 4 years old NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

April 09, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

Margaret Bevan is losing patience. For the past five years the North Laurel resident has lived in the unfinished town house development of Pilgrim's Ridge.

Ponds of water form in the parking lot when it rains and are filled with tadpoles in the summer. Paving on one road in the 70-unit development is incomplete and potholes dot the parking lot.

The developer, John W. Steffey Sr., never completed the project and residents have been waiting since 1989 for the county and the bonding company that secured the project to come to an agreement.

"A year is acceptable, maybe two, but we're going on four years," Ms. Bevan said.

"There's no drainage and there's water constantly coming up through the concrete," she said. "When it snows it's solid ice and in the summer it's pure algae."

For the past four years the county has been negotiating with the bonding company, International Fidelity Insurance Co. of Newark, N.J., to pay for the unfinished work.

County solicitor Barbara Cook said the county expects to sign an agreement with the bonding company next week, allowing work to begin. Ms. Cook said that the bonding company already has hired a contractor.

County public works director Jim Irvin said that once the agreement is signed, work should begin within several weeks.

Despite assurances from the county, Pilgrim Ridge residents say they've heard it before.

"The county keeps promising the moon and doesn't deliver anything," said five-year Pilgrim's Ridge resident Carmen Stinson. "We still have a swamp out there and a lot of people are just getting disgusted and giving up."

John Burke, of Property Management Resources, the company that runs the homeowner's association at Pilgrim's Ridge, said that the county has not been aggressive enough in forcing the bonding company to complete the development.

"Every time I talk with them [the county], they say work is $H imminent, work is imminent," Mr. Burke said. "I've been hearing it so long, I'm even saying it now."

For two years the association has been pushing the county to force the bond holder to surrender the $233,725 bond in order to make the needed repairs.

Mr. Burke said that the county should have gone ahead with a lawsuit it had prepared against the bonding company.

"In my opinion the bonding company has stonewalled the county for far too long," he said.

Ms. Cook said that going to court is not necessarily the most efficient way of solving the problem.

"I doubt seriously if a lawsuit were properly defended that it would have been resolved by now," she said.

Neither Daniel J. Mitterhoff, a Washington attorney who represents International Fidelity, nor company officials returned phone calls.

Because the development isn't completed, technically it's still the developer's responsibility to maintain the project. Once it's completed, the roads can be dedicated and the county will take over their maintenance, Mr. Burke said.

Mr. Steffey could not be reached for comment at his company, Stefco Builders, in Glen Burnie.

However, county public works officials have provided some snow removal services during the winter months.

"The county has helped with snow removal, but we still have a spring running across the parking lot, we still have tadpoles in the parking lot and a storm water management pond that's not completed," Mr. Burke said.

In addition, the unfinished development has created problems in buying and selling the town homes. Mr. Burke said that at least two potential homebuyers at Pilgrim's Ridge couldn't obtain financing because the project isn't completed.

"If this community was up in the city of Columbia this wouldn't be happening," said six-year resident Cathy Rosenberger. "We're in the southernmost tip [of the county] and they don't pay much attention to us."

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