“Grand Canyon” of potholes shows size of HOA vs Developer problem

In Midland, NC a community has waited for more than a decade to find out who will pay for their road repairs.
Homeowners in Midland have waited more than a decade to find out who will pay to fix their roads.
Updated: Apr. 13, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
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MIDLAND, N.C. (WBTV) – In the Bethel Glen subdivision, there’s a pothole so massive that it acquired a nickname from a national park.

“You come in Midland Road, turn right, and the Grand Canyon is there to greet you,” Chris Edmonds said.

On a rainy evening, it’s impossible to tell how deep Bethel Glen’s ‘Grand Canyon’ goes. Hit it with your car and it feels like you’re on a road trip with the Griswolds.

The massive pothole is hardly the only impressive landmark dotting the neighborhood streets. Water pools on the roads and potholes of various sizes require evasive maneuvers. Manhole covers rise above the rest of the street like a volcano.

“None of us here are getting any younger and we’d like to drive on some good roads,” Scott Himes said.

Himes emailed WBTV after seeing the WBTV Investigates Team’s previous reporting on how much it can cost a community when an association inherits a developer’s mistakes. Himes said the same battle has been playing out in Bethel Glen since the very beginning, nearly 20 years ago.

“The roads in Bethel Glen have not been taken over by the town of Midland yet from the developer,” Himes said.

When a developer completes the construction of a subdivision, the roads are usually transferred over to the town or the state to be maintained with taxpayer dollars.

But in Bethel Glen and other neighborhoods across North Carolina, there are orphan roads that do not meet government standards after they were left by the developer.

So what are homeowners left to do?

Many times, all that they can do is have the neighborhood HOA raise assessments on homeowners to pay for road repairs and replacements --- but it can end up as a taxpayer expense too.

Even now Bethel Glen’s roads are costing Midland’s residents.

After years of demanding road repairs, the Town of Midland sued the developer in 2017. A North Carolina court ruled in the town’s favor determining, “the subdivision’s developers bore responsibility for repairing the roads subject to the Town’s enforcement of road standards.”

But more than six years after the town filed the lawsuit, the case is still active. The developer filed an appeal with North Carolina’s Supreme Court and claims the Town of Midland did not follow proper procedures in filing the lawsuit.

And just like repairing roads, lawsuits are not cheap, the Bethel Glen case has cost the town nearly $250,000 in legal fees since 2014.

While this particular dispute ended up in front of North Carolina’s highest court, battles like it are playing out across the state and costing homeowners and taxpayers one way or another.

Homeowners in Bethel Glen, The Palisades, and subdivisions across the state are asking who will step up to protect their interest in this losing battle with subdivision developers.

“I don’t know if it’s the county, the developer, the town, or the state department of transportation,” Himes said. “But all I do know is it shouldn’t be us, and I’m afraid eventually it’ll get put on us.”

If you’re having an HOA issue with the developer or declarant you can contact your state legislators by searching this link.

You contact David Hodges about HOA problems by emailing investigates@wbtv.com.