HIGH POINT, N.C. — Kymaria Williams was looking for a new home in a new community. She spent some time driving around to different developments before finding Barrington Estates in High Point.
“I love the home and the community, it’s a great mix of young and old (people),” Williams said.
The development had started several years earlier, and Williams was excited about the opportunity to buy a home in a newer yet somewhat established community.
The lot she picked is at the end of a street offering a buffer on one side. The home is large but also quaint and charming, with a front porch overlooking her flowers.
“It’s perfect, it’s everything I wanted,” Williams said.
Through the years, she came to enjoy the neighborhood and her new friends more and more. There was however an issue that was maybe a bit more concerning than she realized.
The original developer, Centex homes pulled out of the community and sold the project and the remaining lots to Barrington Estates LLC. The company sold many of the lots to builders, but many remained unsold. Several lots sat empty going on 10 years after the development was started.
While neighbors certainly expected the community to be completed within 10 years a bigger issue was starting to appear. The roads that had initially been paved by Centex Homes at the start of the project were falling apart. There were potholes all over and many were cracking.
“I spend my day dodging manhole covers when I leave my house, I spend days dodging puddles because I do not know how deep the hole is,” Williams said.
The road only received one layer of asphalt instead of two. It’s common for developers to put down one layer while the community is being built and then once complete add the second coat. This prevents damage to the top layer with heavy construction trucks driving on the completed road more than needed.
The problem in this community is the development has never been finished. There are still homes being built right now while several lots remain empty.
The community, according to members of the HOA Board, was not even turned over to the residents until a few years ago. They say up till then the developer still had control of the community
The problem residents are facing now is the cost to repair the roads and then repaving them is their responsibility. The developer has backed out and is declining to do the work. The city has limited power to force the developer to pay for the repairs, so it falls on the neighbors.
“Everything has been put back on homeowners so it’s up to us, this is certainly not fair,” Williams said.
The city does have a secured letter of credit that was initially posted by Centex Homes, but it is only about $90,000, the cost to repair and then repave the roads in the community will cost closer to $200,000.
“We went out and asked for engineers, we asked for the city of High Point to help us and they wouldn’t, they were hands-off,” Williams said.
City leaders have been in communication with members of the HOA Board but up to this point it has provided limited support. The city did investigate special assessment processes to help fund the road and have the community pay it back, but it would take at least 75% to 80% of the neighbors to agree and it didn’t seem possible.
“I understand their concern but (this is) not one the city can just step in and fix,” Attorney Bruce Ashley said.
Ashley is working with the city and the HOA to try and come up with a solution to this situation.
While cases like this are rare it does happen across the county, state, and country. In most cases, the letter of credit will cover the cost but in these cases, 16 years have passed since the project started.
“The letter of credit amount winds up being probably insufficient, as it has here it appears,” Ashley said. “The city is trying to figure out a way to work with these folks, we can’t just come in and do work, we can’t pay for it to be done.”
Every day that passes the roads get worse and worse. The Winter storm certainly didn’t help as existing potholes seemed to get bigger and other cracks formed on some of the streets. The initial layer of asphalt is so thin that grass has started to grow between some of the small cracks.
“I’m pointing fingers on behalf of the board back at the developer(s) and the city of High Point,” Williams said.
The repaving project appears to be set to begin within the next couple of months. The HOA has secured a $250,000 loan to pay for the repairs and the paving. Once the road is complete and approved it will be turned over to the city of High Point. At that point, the money will be released to the HOA to offset the cost of the work and to help pay off the loan.
The HOA questions why the city allows developers to back out of a responsibility to finish the project without penalty. The LLC that purchased the development from Centex didn’t have to post any bond money and yet they purchased the development early on.
There is also a question as to why it took about a decade before the community was informed it would have to pay for the roads?
At this point the answer doesn’t really matter to those living in Barrington Estates, the HOA is paying and that’s the bottom line.