WRAL Investigates

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

Posted March 29, 2010 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated March 29, 2010 7:41 p.m. EDT

— 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.”

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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