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Resident having problems with home at Apple Knolls in Berkeley Co.

October 12, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County's top engineer acknowledged Thursday that there were problems with the inspection of an Apple Knolls Estates home after resident Randy Kerns aired his concerns before the Berkeley County Commission on Thursday.

"We did find out that there was a problem with the inspector, we corrected the situation, we're moving on," County Engineer William "Bucky" Teach said.

The inspector no longer is employed with the county because he could not get required certifications, Teach said.

Kerns, who lives on Prune Lane in Apple Knolls, told Commissioners Steven C. Teufel and William L. "Bill" Stubblefield that the "saga" of problems at his home started in April when the basement windows began to sink. Since moving into the house in October 2005, he also discovered problems with floor joists, a lack of foundation for part of the home and plumbing problems that Kerns said should not have passed inspection.

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Kerns also noted that the basement windows were not part of the building plans he had obtained a copy of and the home now fails energy compliance standards.

"Half of my lot, I can't even mow," Kerns said.

Though the inspector may have wrongfully gave a passing inspection, the county's legal counsel Norwood Bentley said the builder was ultimately responsible for a "defective house" and advised Kerns to seek additional relief from American Homes. Kerns said that the builder did respond to one problem he had cited with the home.

"I'm not saying the county didn't make a mistake," Bentley said.

The county is pursuing bond money not released back to the original developer, Apple Knolls LLC, to complete unfinished storm water ditches and other infrastructure work at the project site off Dry Run Road, west of Interstate 81. Apple Knolls LLC member John Petry could not be reached to respond to the complaint filed with county leaders on Thursday.

Residents have complained to county officials about "substandard" conditions and unfinished work in the subdivision.

Berkeley County Planning Director Stefanie Allemong-Morton said she will meet later this month with surety company officials from Chicago to determine exactly what needs to be fixed.

Officials have previously said the amount of bond money left was insufficient to complete the unfinished infrastructure work, which is expected to be advertised by the county.

After hearing about Kerns' problem, Teufel said he was inclined to instruct county staff to be more cautious about issuing occupancy permits to guarantee that items left to done by the developer are in fact completed.

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