Bankrupt developer leaves Durham neighborhood with rough roads
Posted September 26, 2011
Durham, N.C. — A Durham neighborhood has waited almost five years for its streets to be finished, and a federal lawsuit is keeping work from being done.
More than 450 homes are in the Stone Hill Estates subdivision, off Freeman and Clayton roads north of N.C. Highway 98 east of Durham. Work on paving, sidewalk construction and stormwater systems ended when developer MacGregor Development filed for bankruptcy in 2008.
"The neighborhood looks unfinished, especially if you come in here and you drive around," resident Charles Thomas said. "It's a mess."
Thomas, who has lived in Stone Hill Estates since 2007, said he thought the neighborhood would be the ideal place to raise a family. Now, he's not so sure, noting that he has watched for years as other residents and visitors would swerve to try to avoid hitting the manholes and access covers to buried utility lines that stick up from the streets.
"It's kind of getting out of hand. You don't see a lot of this in other neighborhoods," he said.
A visitor once tripped over a utility cover and broke her foot, said James Williams, president of the homeowners association.
Williams said he has spent more than $2,100 to replace his tires three times since 2007 and for more frequent front-end realignments and tire rotations.
What irks him more, however, is that Durham won't send snow plows and street sweepers into the neighborhood because of the rough roads.
"People are totally disgusted because they are paying for services and services aren't being rendered," he said.
Stone Hill Estates is among 10 Durham neighborhoods where financially strapped developers haven't finished all the work required by the city, officials said.
They declined to comment Monday on complaints by Stone Hill Estates residents, citing a lawsuit between the city and two insurance companies. Developers Surety and Indemnity Co. and Selective Insurance Co. of America have said they would pay only for certain work, while city officials have demanded that everything be finished.
The city's Public Works Department refuses to do any work in the neighborhood until the lawsuit is resolved, which likely won't be until next spring at the earliest.
"Nobody wants to step up and take responsibility," Thomas said.
Williams and other residents fear they will eventually have to foot the bill for finishing their neighborhood streets. He moved to Durham from Maryland to retire, he notes, not fight over who should finish the work outside his door.
"If I had to do it all over again, I would be in the Brier Creek area in Raleigh – somewhere (else) but not here in Durham," he said.