WRAL Investigates

Raleigh's rise in inactive building sites a 'nuisance' to some

Posted March 29, 2010

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— A deserted property off Pearl Road in east Raleigh was supposed to be Camelot Village. Instead, it's marked by trash, construction debris, deep erosion ruts and mud in the street, even on a dry day.

“It is a nuisance here,” said neighbor Anna Watkins. “You can pass by and look and see how the mud is.”

Construction sites abandoned in Raleigh Construction sites abandoned in Raleigh

Watkins lives across the street from Raleigh's biggest erosion offender.

Due to the mess, fines issued by the City of Raleigh stand at $1.59 million, and they mount by $5,000 a day as long as the registered owner, Treasure Land Development, doesn't contain the run-off.

“The big issue is the damage to the environment,” said Raleigh Stormwater Program Manager Danny Bowden.

Bowden says the city typically sees three or four idle construction sites. Racked by tough economic times and sometimes builder bankruptcy, 77 sites have been inactive for six months or longer, and most violate erosion rules.

“It's as bad as I've ever seen it,” Bowden said.

At Massey Preserve off Forestville Road, two companies – Venture Homes and Perry Builders – face a combined $1.7 million in fines for failure to provide ground cover. Those fines often get reduced in settlements as Stormwater Management inspectors press for compliance.

While abandoned sites are popping up across the state, they're not everywhere. For instance, officials in Durham say it's not a major problem there. One reason is that they require builders take out an erosion bond, which can act as an insurance policy.

“The issue with bonds are trying to pull bonds from the bonding companies,” Bowden said.

Raleigh doesn't require erosion bonds, instead opting for fines and property liens in serious cases. For now, those run-off cases keep piling up in the down economy. Neighbors like Watkins said they want someone to take responsibility and cover the mud with grass or homes.

“Something decent anyway, besides just a vacant lot, a big open hole,” she said.

Raleigh's inactive building site fines

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Raleigh's inactive building sites

*Note: These properties have been inactive for the past six months, according to City of Raleigh records.

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34 Comments

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  • waterwarrior8 Mar 31, 2010

    note to nccarguy...I'm a developer, too. And the definition of GREED is when the big boys throw enormous amounts of cash towards candidates' (on both sides of aisle) campaigns for the 'pay-2-play' game & get express permitting to push thru' their high end developments that don't follow the consumer trends (like shying away from McMansions) or worse, build in areas where no logical person should have a house (like building on steep grades in our mtns, or sinking coastal land, or on top of an environmental brownfield). Case in point is Cannonsgate (real estate Ponzi scheme). Another is River Dunes in Pamlico Cty (impact fee of $12,500 just ain't right).

    There are literally dozens of sites like these. I'm a responsible developer & it's the greedy ones who've ruined it for everyone else. Now, my group is working to fix projects like these.
    Dale Swiggett, Waterfront Sportsman & the EIC

  • delilahk2000 Mar 30, 2010

    THIS IS TOO, WHAT YO GET WHEN HOUSES ARE AT A STUPID PRICE. BRING BACK DOWN TO A REASONABLE PRICE AND YOU WILL SEE THINGS PICK UP. PRICES TODAY ARE STILL INSANE.

  • delilahk2000 Mar 30, 2010

    TALK ABOUT MUD,THIS IS WHAT YOU GET, WHEN YOU CUT DOWN ALL THE TREES. SO NOW SUFFER FOR IT. I HAD RATHER SEE TREES THAN MORE BUILDING DUE TO GREED.

  • pappy1 Mar 30, 2010

    Hahahahah. Looks like the Stimulus didn't make it to these "shovel-ready" projects.

  • Riddickfield Mar 30, 2010

    If it really bothers you, go out and buy a bale of straw and some grass seed. Before you know it you will have grass instead of dirt. Amazing!

  • Caveman93 Mar 30, 2010

    1/4 of Detroit is slated to be demolished...think people...think.

  • TimInNC Mar 30, 2010

    NCcarguy, it's very simple, because we all are already paying for the other guys healthcare, in one way or another. Yes you should be paying to clean up the streets since the streets are, by and large, public property and therefore a public expense. In the case of the streets it is your responsibility because you live here.

  • Bendal1 Mar 30, 2010

    Actually, you do pay to clean up the streets, just as you pay to protect your neighbor's house from crime and fire, pay to keep the parks clean (whether you use them or not), and pay to maintain the school system (again, whether you use it or not).

    It's called being part of a community. Some of you need to understand that. That's still different from this problem though. Just as I don't want the government cooking my food, I still want them to enforce certain standards on HOW it is cooked. Don't fix the problem, regulate it and hold the private companies to the fire until they fix it themselves.

  • Garnerian Mar 30, 2010

    It is sad that some people think government should have to clean up the mess left by others who did not hold up their end of the agreement.

    Yes that could easily be said about healthcare and any other govt assistance.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Mar 30, 2010

    TiminNC...how is it different? Should I be paying to clean up the streets? or your healthcare? or everything others do? why is either my responsibility?

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