Collier residents angered over developer violating stop-work order
Residents of the Villages of Neville Park told Collier commissioners last week that the developer of the area is violating a stop-work order issued last summer for grading work.
About a dozen Marigold Court residents came to the commissioners meeting Feb. 27 to voice their frustrations with Collier Development Co. Inc. and seek assistance from the township.
Susan Keefer told commissioners that the developer is “literally moving mountains” of dirt and rocks, in violation of a stop-work order issued by the township. She and the others who spoke at the meeting say they are worried about water runoff and landslides.
“This is a weekly — almost daily — (occurrence),” Keefer said. “It's constant, but definitely on the weekends, when nobody else is around.”
But Collier Development project manager John Quigley said he wasn't aware of any work going on, and township Manager Sal Sirabella said on Monday that there have been no official reports of violations.
“At this point, we haven't gotten any proof or been able to inspect actual visual (evidence) that there's been grading at the top,” he said. “We've been told, and we have been watching it and monitoring it.”
Quigley also said Collier Development is working to address residents' concerns.
The area that Marigold Court resident say concerns them begins with a hillside behind the homes on the cul-de-sac, flattens to a “bench” area and then continues up to another bench. That is where the next phase of Villages of Neville Park is to be built, featuring houses to be constructed by Ryan Homes.
Grading started in the summer but began without proper permits, Sirabella has said. The township in August issued a stop-work permit to Collier Development, owned by former township commissioner Jack Cargnoni.
“He did move dirt,” Sirabella said. “He was stopped until such time as he produces the grading ordinances.”
Marigold Court residents complained in the summer to the township about water runoff, and a landslide developed in late January on two residents' properties. Township engineer Larry Souleret said runoff from above may have caused the soil on the hillside to shift.
Richard Goodman of Marigold Court told commissioners at the Feb. 27 meeting that after dirt slid onto his property, someone from Collier Development dug a hole in his yard to investigate the landslide.
Goodman filed a police report in response, claiming trespass and damage. No charges were filed.
“I think that there's been grand theft because he took the topsoil off my property without my permission,” he said.
Souleret said at the commissioners' meeting that digging a hole to examine soil is a “legitimate” way of investigating the landslide, but the developer should have notified the township and obtained permission from Goodman.
Quigley said Collier Development sent revised grading plans to the township before the meeting Feb. 27. The grading plans include remediation for the landslide problems. Souleret said he would review the plans, but ultimate approval for the remediation lies with the property owners.
“If the engineering information is satisfactory, then we will proceed to meet with the residents (and) get their understanding and agreement with the work to be done — the portion of it that would be done on their property,” Quigley said. “And then (we would) complete the work in the spring.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.