2013-08-21 / News

Edgehill condo still ‘a mess,’ resident says

By Jim McConnell

Edgehill Condominiums resident Mary Blanton is waiting for her homeowners association to address problems with the ceiling, walls and floor of her unit. 
Jim McConnell/Chesterfield Observer Edgehill Condominiums resident Mary Blanton is waiting for her homeowners association to address problems with the ceiling, walls and floor of her unit. Jim McConnell/Chesterfield Observer Nearly a year after a Chesterfield building inspector cited the homeowners association of a Bon Air condominium complex for violating the county’s building code, one of its residents is still waiting for repairs.

Mary Blanton’s condominium shows obvious signs of building stress, from buckling floor tile in the foyer to drywall cracking and pulling away from ceiling joists in multiple rooms.

The floor slopes dramatically from the front of the unit to the back, making the screen doors to her back porch nearly impossible to open. The dishwasher has pulled away from the wall to the point that it leaks whenever she tries to use it. She can’t even use her washing machine, she said, because the uneven floor causes it to jump all over the place.

It’s been this way for about eight years, said Blanton, who claimed that problems with her building’s roof, siding, drainage and foundation are results of neglect by the Edgehill Condominiums homeowners association.

“It’s a mess out here,” Blanton added. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to shame these people into doing the right thing. Obviously, they won’t do it on their own.”

Joseph E. Moncrief, a county building inspector, inspected Edgehill Condominiums last August at Blanton’s behest and identified five building code violations: exposed footings, holes under foundation walls, holes in exterior walls, a leaky roof and improperly installed support columns under a common walkway.

The failure to maintain property is a violation of Section 5-1 of the county code, as stated on the Notice of Violation, which required that the Edgehill homeowners association come into compliance by making repairs within 45 days.

When that deadline – last Oct. 13 – came and went, Moncrief reinspected the complex on Jan. 16.

On verifying that the homeowners association was still in violation of the county code, he filed a misdemeanor summons the next day in Chesterfield General District Court.

“Until the county got involved, they hadn’t done much of anything,” Moncrief said.

Representatives of the homeowners association first answered the charges in court on March 12. The case was continued until May 14, then the association stipulated that the county had enough evidence to sustain a finding of guilt and requested more time to complete required repairs, said assistant county attorney Tara McGee.

The case was continued again until Aug. 13. But when both sides reconvened before Judge James J. O’Connell III in General District Court last week, the homeowners association retracted its stipulation and requested that the judge consider the case on its merits.

McGee noted that all of the items on the original notice of violations hadn’t been fixed and asked O’Connell to find the homeowners association guilty and impose a fine of $2,500.

Instead, the judge noted that the association had completed three of the five projects – including significant repairs to the building’s footings and foundation – and granted another 60-day extension to wrap things up.

Drew Turnbull, vice president of the homeowners association’s board of directors, said in a statement that the association “has been diligently working to conduct certain repairs over the past few months.”

“The association looks forward to finishing the final work on those repairs in the coming months, and receiving an ‘all clear’ from the county in the near future,” he added.

According to Moncrief, the biggest sticking point between the county and the homeowners association is whether “throwing dirt up against the foundation” constitutes a permanent solution to soil erosion behind Blanton’s building.

“Our position is that a temporary fix is not what the code intended,” he said. “If it was, we’d have people duct taping all kinds of things.”

Moncrief acknowledged that Blanton’s building is “structurally sound” and isn’t in danger of collapsing, but that doesn’t make her feel any better about the state of her condominium unit.

“I’m not asking for a miracle – I know this building is never going to be perfect,” she said. “But I shouldn’t have to live like this.”

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