Concerns over sidewalks at Wildflower Pond

By on July 21, 2016
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Wildflower Pond development, built in the early 2000s, contains 92 homes and is located just north of Route 322 in Clay Township, across from Sharp Plaza.

Clay Twp. won’t take or dedicate the roads until  Home Owners Association is in place.

by Marylouise Sholly

 

Concerns about sidewalks, liabilities and responsibilities brought three residents of the Wildflower Pond development to the Clay Township Supervisors meeting Monday evening.

The big question: Are the sidewalks of the development in compliance with the American Disabilities Act?

Residents are complaining about the condition of the sidewalks, maintaining that they are difficult for use by handicapped people.

“The township and the developer repaired the sidewalks three or four years ago, but we’re not sure if they’re ADA compliant,” said Wildflower Pond homeowner Rich Thomas.

Homeowner Joe Stoltzfus has contacted the ACLU, he said recently, because he believes the sidewalks do not meet ADA standards.

“What if a federal investigator comes in and says you have to re-do those sidewalks?” asked Wildflower Pond resident David Martin.

Supervisor Gary Landis said ADA compliance is a matter to be addressed between the developer and the homeowners.

 

“Did you give the developer a letter saying the sidewalks are all right, that they’re acceptable by the township?” Wildflower Pond resident Rich Bernarduci asked Bob Lynn, the township’s engineer.

Lynn replied that he did not.

Everybody is “scared to death” about the liability that could come with the sidewalks if someone is injured, Bernarduci said.

The development, built in the early 2000s, contains 92 homes and is located just north of Route 322 in Clay Township, across from Sharp Plaza.

Issues with the development have risen recently because the developer, Dr. C. Busco, wants to turn over more responsibility of the development to the HOA, and elect a board of governors to run the organization.

A recent meeting of the homeowners had less turnout than was needed for a quorum, so an election of officers could not take place. A second meeting has been scheduled for that same purpose for Aug. 4, at 7 p.m., in the social hall of Dove Fellowship Christian Church on West Main Street, Ephrata.

But, many homeowners say, how can there be officers of a non-existent entity?

“How can they have a board of governors if no association has been formed?” asked Martin, who lives on Foggy Bottom Road in the development.

While a homeowners’ association was supposed to be part of the plan for the development, with a fee of $78 per year, it has never materialized, the men said.

When Jennifer Mejia, the township’s solicitor, asked if she could send information to the homeowners’ association, Wildflower Pond resident Fred Thomas told her the development has no governing body.

Many of the homeowners, at this point, don’t want the HOA, Thomas said.

“We can’t decide anything until we can make an informed decision,” Thomas said.

In recent years, new home buyers in the development have been told there is no HOA and purchased their homes under that assumption, said Bernarduci.

Martin wanted to know when the roads in the development would be dedicated to the township, resulting in the township maintaining the roads.

The township won’t take or dedicate the roads until the HOA is in place, he was told.

“Anything you don’t dedicate, we’re liable for as homeowners,” Martin told the supervisors. “I need to know what exactly we’re liable for. Every liability is covered for the developer, but none of them cover the taxpayer.”

The by-laws of the homeowners’ association are out-of-date and no longer apply to the development, Martin said.

As an example, one by-law addresses the development’s walking path and no such path exists.

Martin said he feels it’s time to consult the district attorney with concerns about the development.

“Why has the development paid over 10 years of taxes to you without any services from the township?” Martin asked. “That’s taxation without representation.”

Mejia tried to address Martin’s concerns.

“In terms of by-laws for the organization, that’s an issue between the developer and the homeowners’ association,” Mejia said. “The township is in a difficult position; we don’t negotiate or write by-laws between developers and homeowners.”

Secondly, the development’s storm water retention basin is also supposed to be maintained by the non-existent HOA.

The owner of “Two Cousins Pizza” in Ephrata is responsible for one-third of the maintenance of the storm water basin and the HOA is responsible for the remaining two-thirds, Bernarduci said.

Currently, Busco, the developer, is paying for maintenance of the pond, Bernarduci said.

Sinkholes have plagued the retention pond numerous times, and the basin continues to have them, Martin said.

Mejia said it was her understanding that the HOA was created for the maintenance of the storm water basin.

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