Local News

Rules Say Burned-Out Residents Must Rebuild, Not Move From Townhouses

Posted March 14, 2007 11:38 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2007 4:40 a.m. EDT

— Some victims of the recent townhouse fires in Raleigh are fired up about being told they have to rebuild.

A massive blaze last month, one of the largest in Raleigh history, destroyed or damaged 38 homes at Pine Knoll Townes. After they lost so much, some residents say, the homeowners association has delivered another blow.

Some of the people who lost everything would rather move on than rebuild. However, the development’s homeowners association is not giving them that option. According to the master covenants, conditions and restrictions for Pine Knoll Townhomes, homeowners have no choice but to rebuild.

"The fire came up from the back, went up the side of the house and up through the attic," Gene Johnson said Wednesday as he pointed to what's left of his roof.

Tarps cover the holes, but there is no hiding the damage inside. The ceiling in his master bedroom collapsed. The rest of the house suffered mostly smoke and water damage.

“We really are lucky in some respects that we didn't lose everything," said Johnson. He and his fiancé plan to rebuild from the ground up.

Others feel differently.

The rules state, "In the event of damage to an owner's property, the owner shall contract to rebuild or repair.”

"I guess that it could be a real traumatic experience to come back into a house that you know, even though it's brand new, was once ashes," Johnson said.

The developer, Bill Spang, acts as the board of directors for the homeowners association. He says he's not in any position to buy out any of the residents. And if the homeowners don't comply with the rules, it may delay reconstruction.

"I would think that as neighbors, you would want to work together and rebuild the community and not hold up the process,” Johnson said. But others would rather carry on with their lives elsewhere and forget all that was lost here.

The developer says the builder, Beazer Homes, is ready to start construction immediately, but homeowners must sign off on the project first. The developer says the town homes can rebuilt in 100 to 120 days.