The town of Hampstead is preparing to complete the infrastructure work in the Shiloh Run subdivision, after cashing the developer's $318,000 construction bond and accusing him of shoddy workmanship.
The action follows a yearlong struggle with Maranson Development Co. over driveway and sidewalk construction in the 95-home development. Hampstead Town Manager Neil Ridgely said the developer failed to finish the work despite repeated extensions of deadlines.
"We have been cajoling Maranson for the last year to finish the subdivision and correct a lot of poor construction there," Ridgely said. "He made certain obligations in the public works agreement, and he has repeatedly failed to meet those obligations."
Because of the developer's failure to meet the extended deadlines, Ridgely made the Aug. 12 decision to draw against the construction bond posted by Maranson. This means that the town assumes responsibility for hiring contractors to complete the work in Shiloh Run, including landscaping, road paving and driveway repairs.
The public works agreement between Maranson and Hampstead calls for the town to take over the maintenance of water, roads, sidewalks and sewers in Shiloh Run once the development is complete. The developer posted a bond at the outset of the project to ensure that the infrastructure is finished in a satisfactory manner.
"I'd say this is probably unprecedented in Hampstead, it's something no town wants to do," Ridgely said of his decision to draw against the developer's bond.
"It's extremely time-consuming and puts us in the construction business," he said. "I'm now the general contractor for the site."
James McCormick, president of Maranson Development which has offices in Annapolis Junction, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, disputed Ridgely's allegations of defective construction work.
"We've just gone through two very, very hard winters, that's why the driveways and sidewalks are not in such good shape," McCormick said. "It's not poor workmanship. Concrete doesn't react well to deicing agents."
He criticized Ridgely's decision to revoke Maranson's construction bond, and said all infrastructure work and repairs would have been completed by the Aug. 31 deadline of the final extension.
"He just has not allowed us the opportunity to fulfill our obligations within the time frame," McCormick said. "It's a lousy situation for us and we feel things have been incredibly blown out of proportion, and that the homeowners don't realize they've gotten a product well below market price that is of high quality."
Home prices in the 4-year-old Shiloh Run development range from $109,000 to $150,000, and many residents are questioning the value of their purchases.
In May, Mary and Jerome Daniels obtained the signatures of 62 homeowners who had complaints about the quality of construction in and around their homes, and described them in a letter to the town of Hampstead.
Problems included crumbling driveways and sidewalks, wet basements, leaking roofs and deteriorating front porches. The homeowners urged the town to revoke Maranson's public works bond to complete the infrastructure repairs.
"Some of the residents have been here two years and still can't get the work done," the letter said. "Many have written certified letters to the builder with no response."
Tom Murphy, a two-year resident of Shiloh Run, said he has spent more than $2,000 to repair his crumbling driveway and poor grading on his property.
"They left a big mound of dirt that looked like a small elephant was buried there," he said.
Mary Daniels said she has contacted the Better Business Bureau, the Maryland attorney general's office and the County Commissioners regarding problems at Shiloh Run, but has had no success.
"These builders, they shouldn't be able to get away with this stuff," she said. "It seems no matter which way we turn, we can't seem to get anything done."
County building inspectors typically conduct four on-site inspections during home construction to make sure that the project meets standard building codes, said Ralph E. Green, chief of the county permits office. Driveways, sidewalks and porches do not fall under county review.
"We check at the most crucial stages of construction to make sure [the builder is] in compliance, but damage can be caused after we do our inspection," he said.
Green said substandard construction often occurs because subcontractors are rushing to meet settlement deadlines.
McCormick said his company has attempted to correct homeowners' problems, but in some cases the one-year home warranty had expired.
"Ninety-nine percent of people choose not to look at the warranty," McCormick said. "We take care of legitimate warranty situations."
"That's baloney, we read our warranty," countered Mary Daniels, who said Maranson failed to fix problems that several homeowners had identified prior to settlement on their homes.
Ridgely said the town of Hampstead will work with an engineering inspection firm to develop a comprehensive list of remaining infrastructure work in Shiloh Run before putting the jobs out for bid.
He said he expects 90 percent of the work -- including grading, landscaping, and sidewalk and driveway repairs -- to be finished by November.
"We're not looking for craftsmanship here, but we are looking for workmanship. And I think that's reasonable to expect," Ridgely said.
Pub Date: 9/03/96