Deadline set for Hawk Ridge repairs Storm damage must be fixed at Sykesville homes


After inspecting the most recent storm damage at Hawk Ridge Farms, Sykesville Town Manager James L. Schumacher told the developer that repair work must begin at 8 a.m. today.

Mr. Schumacher issued the ultimatum yesterday in response to several residents' complaints of damage from Monday's rain. He toured the site and met with Jeff Powers, vice president of Powers Homes, which plans to build several hundred homes at Hawk Ridge.

On July 12, Sykesville gave Powers Homes two weeks to solve persistent grading problems at the development north of town or face forfeiture of the bond posted as part of a public works agreement.

"Mr. Powers told me he is confident he can get all the work done in a day," said Mr. Schumacher, who plans another inspection at 4 p.m. today and constant monitoring of the problem.

"After the next rainfall, I will inspect it again," said Mr. Schumacher. "If what has been done is not working, the builder will have to come back again."

Mr. Powers, who did not return a call to his Westminster office, has been working to meet the deadline, said Mr. Schumacher.

If he fails to repair drainage ditches and silt fences, the town has the option of using the bond money to make repairs.

Hawk Ridge residents said they have seen no improvements since the imposition of the deadline.

"The developer has not done anything to fix these problems," said Ann Marie Osinga of Norris Avenue.

George Fischer of Caracara Court said the town manager has been the only person to take action.

"If not for Jim, nothing would have been done here," said Mr. Fischer.

Mr. Schumacher said he had asked the builder to develop a new grading plan. Preliminary work on the plan, including photos along every foot of the hills behind Caracara Court, took several days to complete.

"Jeff brought the computer map with the plotted grading improvements to our meeting today," Mr. Schumacher said yesterday.

With that planning completed, regrading can begin, said Mr. Schumacher.

Mr. Fischer said he is adopting a "seeing is believing" attitude.

"This has been going on for seven months, and I have no confidence in Powers," he said. "He hasn't fixed the root cause. Band-aid solutions don't work."

Mayor Kenneth W. Clark said Hawk Ridge Farms was the first thing that crossed his mind as thunderstorms and torrential rain pelted Sykesville Monday night.

"I wondered if parts of Hawk Ridge would be washing by my house," said the mayor, who lives near the development.

The mayor may indeed have seen parts of Hawk Ridge Lane wash past his home, said Ms. Osinga.

"The new extension to the road is all eroded now," said Ms. Osinga.

Many Hawk Ridge residents associate downpours with leaking basements and washed-out yards.

"We have another mess again because of a storm," said Ms. Osinga. "Storm drains were so filled with debris we couldn't see them. The silt fence broke in two places from the water pressure."

During the two-week grace period, the town has told the developer to install a "super silt fence" made of chain link behind homes on Caracara Court.

The mayor said he would stand by the two-week window before asking the town attorney to review Sykesville's options for action against the developer.

"Our emphasis is on getting this problem fixed," said Mr. Clark.

The town maintenance crew worked on removing the debris early yesterday and "will probably charge the builder for the work," said Mr. Schumacher.

Mr. Fischer said the force of the rushing water was so powerful it washed away hay bales meant to control erosion.

Water also filled in 40 30-inch holes that he had dug for a fence around his pool.

"I am calling Powers," he said. "I expect his company to drain those holes and redig them."

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