Troubleshooter

HOA fights for answers

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Johnston County homeowners association is upset over a potential bill that they say they shouldn't be responsible for.

The bill is to the tune of thousands of dollars and involves the landscaping around their subdivision that could have been done more than 13 years ago.

There are more than 200 homes in the Wynston subdivision in Clayton. Recently, the HOA received a warning from the Town of Clayton letting them know the berms weren't up to code.

Where trees and shrubs are supposed to be, there are only overgrown weeds.

When the subdivision was being developed in 1999, there was supposed to be landscaping on three berms included in the plans. That landscaping never happened on some of the berms, and now the Town of Clayton wants the Wynston HOA to do it.

"We didn't even really have an idea that the problem even occurred until the complaint was brought to our attention, some 10 years after the residency was built," homeowner Matt Katlen said.  Centex developed the subdivision back in 1999.

Katlen did some digging and found a document that dates back to 1999 from Centex's consultants. The letter addressed to the Town of Clayton's Planning and Inspections Department lets the town know Centex did not include the landscaping detail the town requested. The letter even provided a drawing showing the trees and shrubs that should be put in along the berms.   The letter states this landscaping buffer will be added to the plans.

More than 13 years later, the HOA wants the builder, Centex, to do what they say needed to be done back in 1999.

"They're the ones that built it. There's actually paperwork that shows that they had approved what they were going to build. They just never actually built it up to code," Katlen said. "Whether it was just an honest mistake and it was just forgotten, or not, we don't know."

Matt reached out to Centex via email but was told when Centex developed the neighborhood, the city approved the plans and issued certificate of occupancy. If something was not done to code, they say this is the first they've heard of it.

"Clearly, there was some type of miscommunication failure between Centex and the town when the community was built, as far as making sure that the work was done. Whether that's Centex's fault or the town's fault, or shared fault, I'd probably say it's on both of them," Katlen said.

Matt reached out to me. When I talked to a representative with Centex, she said that the community was built back in 1999 and Centex does not keep records past 10 years. They turned the community over to the HOA in 2004 and have no further information on the issue.

When I reached out to the Town of Clayton they took responsibility.

"It was something that should have been caught by the inspectors at the time and it was not," Clayton's Planning Director David DeYoung said.

David said Centex should have put the landscaping in the berms back in 1999, but since the town did not catch it back then and signed off on the project, they are now taking responsibility.

"We don't feel that the homeowners association should be responsible for installing a berm that should have be installed when the original developer was still part of the process," DeYoung said. "The town has agreed to review the landscaping that's supposed to be installed and eventually, ultimately install the landscaping that will go on the berm."

That is welcome news to the Wynston HOA.

"We're definitely very happy the town of Clayton stepped up and handled the situation," Katlen said.

Now the Town of Clayton will be putting in the landscaping necessary to bring those berms up to code, and then the HOA will maintain them. Katlen says not having to put in the landscaping will save the HOA close to $15,000.

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johnston county, troubleshooter, diane wilson
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