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Dead-end street frustrates Buffalo Township homeowner

| Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 1:36 a.m.
Steven Dietz-contributing photog
Mary Keller points to the unfinished dead end at the end of her street in the Village at Sarver's Mill housing plan in Buffalo Township on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. STEVEN DIETZ | Contributing photographer

A few feet from Mary Kellers' home is a large, stone-filled dead end that is spotted with debris and puddles and surrounded by weeds.

Garbage trucks and delivery vehicles that use the area as a turnaround have left a trail of dried mud up Creek Side Drive in the Village at Sarver's Mill housing plan.

It's an eyesore and potential health hazard that Kellers and the Sarver's Mill Homeowners Association have spent five years trying to get the developer, Sarver Square Associates, to fix.

“It's a beautiful area, it's just a shame,” said Kellers, who was one of the first buyers and has lived in Sarver's Mill for seven years.

Home prices in the partially completed development start at about $198,000.

“The PRD (Planned Residential Development) makes the statement that the community phases will be completed as the market conditions change,” said Michael Ruefle, founder of Sarver Square Associates. “At this stage, we're doing what the law says we're allowed to do.”

Ruefle declined to comment further and did not return multiple calls seeking comment about the land adjacent to the Kellers' home.

Kellers said she spoke with Ruefle, who offered to put in a blockade to prevent people from turning around there.

But that's not going to solve the problem and will only result in people using her driveway to turn around, she said.

“All we're asking for is gravel to avoid the standing water issue,” Kellers said. “There are still big puddles here. We have cattails growing next to it.”

This month, Kellers wrote to the Buffalo Township Supervisors asking for their help.

A township ordinance prohibits dead-end streets without an adequate turnaround.

But Supervisor John Haven said there is little the township can do because the development isn't complete and the unfinished roads haven't been turned over to the township.

“It's between her and the developer unless there was an emergency,” he said. “I'm not real crazy with the situation with the turnaround there. There's mud and stones and things like that.”

Haven said he plans to visit the site about three days after a rainfall to see if any water remains.

“I don't like standing water in the summertime,” Haven said. “I would think if it doesn't go away in three days, you have a potential problem there for mosquitoes and larvae.”

He said he will talk with the other supervisors about how to deal with the situation.

Sarver's Mill was proposed in 2003 to include 200 townhouses, duplexes and single-family homes on 70 acres along Sarver Road.

At the time, Ruefle said the development would be built in phases over five years, but the collapse of the housing market and the recession have delayed those plans.

The first phase included about 50 units and the plan's recreational facilities.

After seven years, Kellers feels something should be done about the unfinished road.

“How long is that allowed to happen? That they can say, ‘I don't have to abide by the rules because it's still in development,' ” she said.

It would cost about $2,000 to level off the area and put in a hard-packed dirt or gravel surface, based on estimates the association sought, said Mary Merkt, homeowners association president.

“When we proposed it and gave them estimates, they never responded,” Merck said. “They claim to not have any money.

“The developers have been asked many, many, many times to finish this off some way.”

The association collects maintenance fees, which are used to maintain shared amenities, but the board is opposed to using the money to fix the area on Creek Side.

“We're holding fast on absolutely not using it,” Merkt said. “It's not our job to do it. (The developer) has dropped it in our lap as our problem, but it is their job to finish it.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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