Lawsuit leaves Durham homeowners in limbo

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Lawsuit leaves homeowners in limbo
Protruding manhole covers, incomplete sidewalks and storm water drains have left a local subdivision in limbo.

DURHAM (WTVD) -- It's supposed to be home sweet home. However, people living in two Durham subdivisions say it's been a bumpy ride.

"It's been a pain in the butt," said homeowner James Williams. "People's cars have been torn up with the streets."

As president of the Stone Hill Estates Homeowners Association, Williams has spent several years battling with a bankrupt developer and the City of Durham after his subdivision was left incomplete during the recession.

Protruding manhole covers, unfinished sidewalks and storm drain systems have been a source of frustration.

"What really bothers me is when you go out and you see them tearing up these other streets that are already okay," added homeowner Berma Norris.

A lawsuit between the City of Durham and two insurance companies has held up the completion of the work on the streets and sidewalks. Last week, a judge said the city should help pay for the repairs now estimated at one million dollars. Homeowners say the city failed to get adequate bond coverage.

"As I told them from the beginning, anytime you do any construction, you must have a million dollar bond," said Williams. "With all the attorneys the city has, they overlooked it."

It's proven to be an expensive oversight that now has Williams and his neighbors in limbo, waiting to see whether the city will foot the bill or once again, ask them to share the burden.

"The city wanted to impose a fee on us to pay for the streets being finished," recalled Williams. "We said, no way! We will sue first!"

According to a spokesperson for the City of Durham, there are currently 21 subdivisions in the failed and struggling development program managed by the Public Works.

At one point, there were a total of 54 subdivisions in the program. The city has successfully completed 33 of those subdivisions.

No word yet on how the city plans to pay for the street paving and other infrastructure.

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