Developer: City holding up home sales

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A Clovis developer is accusing the city of holding up sales of her new houses, which were vandalized in September. City officials say the problem lies with the homes’ infrastructure.

Three months after vandals bulldozed three nearly completed homes, Delma Crisp said buyers are still waiting to close and the interest on construction loans is mounting because the city has been slow in performing inspections.

“I just can’t believe that the city can take that long,” she said.

“How can they drag this on and on when you’ve got people that have nowhere to go?”

In mid-spring, Crisp said, sewer lines were completed, but it wasn’t until late fall that the city said the lines were faulty and denied permits for utilities.

The contractor repaired the work, but the city said they couldn’t inspect because the camera they used to explore the lines was broken, she said.

Crisp said they then borrowed a camera to inspect and came back saying there was still a problem with the lines.

Because the homes don’t have utilities, she can’t close on them.

Crisp said there are five houses at the site — all sold to military families. The families are in limbo, some staying with friends or in hotels, waiting for their closing dates, she said.

But Building Safety Director Pete Wilt said the delays are the result of faults in the infrastructure of the homes and as soon as the problems have been addressed, the project can move forward.

“It’s not the city’s fault that the delays have occurred. The infrastructure never was put in correctly,” he said, adding the vandalism did not contribute to the infrastructure issues.

Initially sewer lines were not level, and then cracks and holes were discovered and there were some problems with the electricity, Wilt said.

With the exception of one of the homes, which needs all new sewer lines, Wilt said the homes have been revisited by the sub-contractors and are on the cusp of completion.

Crisp said two homes in earlier phases of construction are at a complete standstill after the city denied any new permits until the utilities are completed.

Wilt said the city engineer, who halted the issuance of permits on two of the houses until utilities were completed, has given approval for the contractor to apply for permits and move forward.

“If they want to hand in 20 permits on Monday, we can go ahead and start processing them.” Wilt said.

City Manager Joe Thomas said he had looked into the developers’ concerns and believes the city has done what it needed to do.

“I think that the city has an obligation to see that it’s done correctly,” he said. “We have moved judiciously to get it resolved.”

Sept. 19, workers discovered vandals had bulldozed three of the homes, doing about $600,000 of damage. The culprit has not been caught.