Property owners continue to express concern about problems with developer

November 07, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Brimington Farms residents concerned about their unfinished development peppered the Waynesboro Borough Council on Wednesday with complaints about snow removal, police protection, unpaved roads and weeds.

Some of the 40 residents who attended council’s meeting thanked borough officials for their efforts to date to work with Brimington Farms’ developer, homebuilder, a bonding company and the bonding company’s insurer.

“We’re very appreciative of what the borough’s done,” said Garrett Snyder, of Hollengreen Drive.

Borough officials said their hands are tied for what work the municipality could do to make improvements in the development, which had its phase-one property owned by DLM LLC and Gemcraft Homes as its homebuilder. Development was affected by bankruptcy filings. The houses and streets remain private properties.

The Waynesboro Borough Council has started court proceedings trying to collect more than $1 million in bonding from Lexon Surety Group, a company that guarantees a developer (in this case DLM LLC and Gemcraft Homes) will complete the work spelled out in approved plans and local law.

“Believe us, we have been wracking our brains and trying to get something done expeditiously. ... We’re probably one of 400 communities yelling at them to get off their duffs and do something,” Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

In October 2011, the borough entered the claims process with Lexon Surety Group’s insurance company. Borough Solicitor Sam Wiser said very little progress has been made since that time.

A letter to the CEO of Lexon last month generated a draft settlement agreement written by Lexon’s insurer, Wiser said. That agreement indicates the insurance company could ensure the public improvements would be finished by the middle of 2013, he said.

The agreement needs to be revised to further protect the borough before it can be signed, Wiser said.

The bonding company can find a contractor to do the work, or the borough can collect the money and do the work but pay higher rates because of prevailing wage, he said.

“Unfortunately, we’re stuck in the middle of this as residents. We have some pressing concerns,” said Melissa Russ, who lives on Waterdale Drive.

Russ said she twice called for an ambulance last winter and had to help the responders find her house because there are no street signs. She and others said they worry ambulances will not be able to reach their houses when roads are not plowed for snow.

The municipality is very limited it what it can do on private streets and properties, Hamberger said.

“Until those streets (are improved and deeded to become) public streets, we cannot expend public money,” he said.

Brimington Farms isn’t the only Franklin County, Pa., residential development to experience issues related to the economy. The Borough of Mercersburg powered a sewage pumping station for Findlay Park after its developer stopped paying electric bills, and two Washington Township staff members drove to Ohio trying to claim money they wanted to use for roads, walkways and driveway turnarounds in Antietam Commons.

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