Work stop ordered at Hawk Ridge Farm Every rain brings buckets of woe, one homeowner declares

June 23, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

County and Sykesville officials issued immediate stop-work orders at Hawk Ridge Farm yesterday following an on-site inspection of continuing grading problems.

"We see the evidence and we will do everything within the law to make Powers Homes comply with regulations," said Robert A. "Max" Bair, executive assistant to the county commissioners, after slogging through the mud that had been washed into yards along Caracara Court by recent heavy rains.

No further permits for Hawk Ridge Farm, which is to eventually include more than 100 homes at the north end of Sykesville, will be issued to Powers Homes, he said.

Piney Meadow, another Powers development in South Carroll, has been shut down since June 11 because of sediment-control problems. The company is developing several other sites in the county.

"We can shut down the builder's sites all over the county," said Mr. Bair.

Jeffrey Powers, president of Powers Homes, did not return a phone message yesterday.

While Sykesville Town Manager hurried off to issue the order, Mr. Bair remained on the site to answer questions from irate homeowners.

"I have no faith in the county anymore," said Ann Marie Osinga, who posted a "Buyer Beware" sign in the front window of her Norris Avenue home.

"I have lived here six months while officials have let Powers take our money. He is laughing all the way to the bank."

Ms. Osinga said every rain brings problems with leaking windows and flooded yards.

"I am sick of baby-sitting my house," she said.

Mr. Bair said he would discuss only grading problems at yesterday's meeting. Leaking windows and penetration of mud and water through walls is an issue the residents should discuss directly with the contractor, he said.

"I hear every word you are saying," he said. "We are here from this time forward to do everything we can."

Mr. Bair asked for patience and reminded residents of the heavy rainfall. The contractor needs dry ground to complete the work, he said.

"We have had more rain this spring than we have had in 100 years," said Sam O'Connell, county inspector. "An inch fell in 30 minutes during Saturday's storm and all that water has no place to go."

Mr. Bair said the shutdown should force the builder to take action on residents' complaints.

"Short of a lawsuit, we cannot force the builder to come here and do the necessary work," he said.

Other possible steps

In addition to issuing the Hawk Ridge Farm order, the county could post every Powers home under construction with a stop-work order. Officials also can withhold the use and occupancy permits required for final settlement on property.

The order issued yesterday does not affect subcontractors working on two Hawk Ridge homes already under roof.

"I know how upset everyone is, but we have seen a lot of corrections here in the past six months," said Gail Smith, county grading inspector. "If the work isn't done within seven days, we will post further stop-work orders on homes under construction."

A pond to trap water before it flows into a storm drain behind Caracara Court would alleviate flooding, she said. The contractor should immediately build the pond to hold and release water at a slower rate, she said.

'Who wants a pond?'

Rose Ann Fischer, a Caracara Court resident, said the pond could be dangerous for the many young children in the development.

"Who wants a pond when you have kids?" she asked. "We just want our yards taken care of."

Mrs. Fischer recently had a contractor install an above-ground pool for which she had a county permit. The downpours last weekend inundated her yard and ruined the pool filter, she said.

"Until these problems are addressed, the builder is shut down," said Mr. O'Connell. "He can't do anything else in Hawk Ridge."

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