Saturday, May 30, 2009

Budd Saunders shared this letter to the editor with friends more than a week ago and it was published Saturday

Gotta give the newspapers first shot or they might think it is old news.
So here is what they published pretty much as Budd wrote it.
Letters to the editor
Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Saturday, May 30, 2009
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/Editorial/76982/
Veterans could use the land
By the time this is published I will have attended the Memorial Day ceremony at the Fayetteville National Cemetery. The ceremony is to honor those who have served our country with honor. Many fought in our country's wars.
I was standing near the flag pole talking with a friend. He looked around and asked me how many friends of mine are buried in the cemetery. I thought a moment and said, "All of them." That sounds like false patriotism but it's quite true. I didn't know most of them personally, but attending memorials and funerals honoring their service makes them friends of mine.
Several years ago vandals sprayed red paint on 60 headstones. I went to see the damage. My eyes were burning with tears as I walked along looking over the scene. That act dishonored that garden of stone which is hallowed ground. The cemetery's crew and the volunteers worked in freezing weather, with a cold north wind blowing sleet into their faces. It was hard work, and it took three days to clean the bright, red paint from the headstones.
I wrote in an open letter to the Northwest Arkansas Times that I wanted to talk with the young boys who had done this terrible deed. That's all I wanted to do. Let them walk with me through the cemetery. I would read the headstones to them while I explained what they meant. For example, there's Clarence B. Craft, U.S. Army, Medal of Honor for Valor Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. There are veterans buried there from the Civil War, the Mexican border war, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq. Many are unknown but still honored for their service.
Fayetteville has one of the few national cemeteries with room to grow, and the old sale barn area beside the cemetery is for sale. I am a member of the Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation. We raise money any way we can to buy land around the national cemetery. Earlier this year Milo Cumpston, one of the founders of our organization and a Marine survivor of Iwo Jima, arranged to purchase enough land to have burials until 2023. Milo was the last of the five veterans who founded the RNCIC.
Developers want to build student housing on the sale barn land. I don't know that students living near the cemetery will desecrate the cemetery, but there's a good chance they will. When we lived in Fayetteville years ago our home was across from Evergreen Cemetery. That is close to the University of Arkansas campus. Regularly I had to go over there and break up parties. Students damaged the headstones and grave markers. They meant no harm, but being young they didn't give it a thought if it was fun.
The RNCIC wants to purchase the land for the cemetery, but we don't know where to turn for the money. Can you help?
Budd Saunders


Anonymous said...

Wrong contract forces students to scramble
Move in date later than some expected

ELLENSBURG — When Kathryn Lake signed the lease to move into The Grove Ellensburg, a new 512 bed apartment complex under construction on Airport Road, she thought it was a good deal.

A room in The Grove, which is not affiliated with Central Washington University, rents for $425 a month. Utilities and internet were included and she could move in Aug. 15. She signed a lease Feb. 26, she said and thought she would be set for her fifth year at CWU.

But in April she received a letter from the management at The Grove seeking to change her lease and have her move in a month later.

Shannon King, president of Campus Crest Real Estate Management, the North Carolina company that is developing The Grove, said the change was required because leases with the wrong date were initially distributed.

“(The responsibility) plainly sets on our shoulders,” she said. Construction is proceeding on schedule, she said, but for a Sept. 15, not Aug. 15 move-in date, so Campus Crest asked tenants to agree to a change in their leases.

Some students agreed and some didn’t. According to Brian Steinberg, general manager of The Grove Ellensburg, 100 residents didn’t go along with the change.

Lake was one of them. She said she was unwilling to change the lease because she needed a place to live.

Lake said she was told one of the buildings would be open in August and she would be able to move in then after all. So she paid her money in July and planned to move in.

“I called them August 6 and they told me I would be able to move in the next week,” she said. Two days later she received the news that she would not be able to move in and would be put up in alternative housing instead.

Alternative housing was a motel with a roommate, no cooking facilities and no storage. Since she didn’t know the roommate, she was hesitant to take the motel.

After further negotiation, Grove management arranged for her to get a motel room by herself, and she moved in there Aug. 17, she said.

But with the rodeo in town a week later, she was told she would have to move to a motel in Yakima for a week.

That was the last straw for Lake, who decided to find other housing.

“At first I was mad, but I’m not mad anymore, I’m just tired,” said Lake. She said her new place would cost more.

Ashley Smith is another CWU student who had planned to move in in August. Unlike Lake, she agreed to change the lease, but she didn’t like it.

Anonymous said...

“So far it’s been horrible,” said Smith. She has been living in Woodinville and commuting to Ellensburg, something that will have to continue until school starts, she said. She said she is not alone. “Everyone I’ve talked to says its a problem,” she said.

This is not the first problem with move-in dates for Campus Crest properties. The company has developed nine student housing facilities across the country and is in the process of building more, including one in Cheney, said King.

The projects are all called The Grove and located near universities. They are similar in that students rent a room in a unit with a shared kitchen. Each resident has their own bathroom and there are three residents to a unit.

Other Campus Crest projects have had problems opening on time, which King attributes to the nature of construction.

In Greeley, Colo., a harsh winter was blamed for the 10-day delay in the opening of The Grove project there, according to a story in The Greeley Tribune newspaper.

The winter had been bad, said Chris Casey, the reporter who wrote the story, when contacted by phone. Students were able to move in after the delay, he said.

In Las Cruces, N.M., students apparently had mixed experiences with Campus Crest project there, according to anonymous postings on www.apartmentratings.com.

Four others had postings expressing dissatisfaction.

“I didn’t move in until a month after they said I could and that should have been the first hint,” wrote an anonymous poster. The poster wrote noise and staff were still unsatisfactory six months later. “It’s like dorms, only worse somehow. The only good thing about this place is the low rent and the proximity to campus.”

An Alabama television station reported some students were unsatisfied with another Campus Crest project when they moved in August in Mobile, Ala.

Keeshia Peyton of WKRG reported some tenants told the station they were without water, electricity, appliances and sinks when they first moved into the Campus Crest project. A sales manager for the project told the station that a water was turned off because of a leak, something management was able to fix in a few days.

But, according to a report on the station’s Web site, a student told them the problem was that The Grove was trying to do a rush job.

Smith is uneasy about about whether The Grove Ellensburg will be complete by Sept. 15. But she feels bound by her lease.

“I feel like I don’t have a choice,” she said. “I’m worried they’re not going to have it done.”

Anonymous said...

Nothing but the truth
Montford tree-cutting spotlights flaws in permitting process
by Brian Sarzynski in Vol. 11 / Iss. 24 on 01/19/2005
Related topics: Asheville City Council, UDO
At the outset of every conditional-use-permit hearing held by the Asheville City Council, City Clerk Maggie Burleson whips out the Bible. Sure, some Council meetings would try the patience of a saint. But Burleson isn't seeking solace in scripture -- she wields the Bible because North Carolina law requires it.
It's a sight familiar to anyone who watches Court TV: The bailiff (or, in this case, the city clerk) holds the Good Book steady while those who want to testify place their right hand upon it and "swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and ..." well, you get the idea.
But the controversy surrounding Campus Crest, a new development in Montford, has prompted Council member Brownie Newman to question both the "truth" told by a developer during a November conditional-use-permit hearing and the credibility of the entire permitting process.
"It is clear that the Campus Crest developers violated their commitment to the city and the residents of Montford to protect an existing 80-foot buffer of mature forest along Montford Avenue, one of the key provisions for Council's collective decision to approve the project," Newman proclaimed in a Dec. 16 e-mail to his fellow Council members and this reporter. "Virtually the entire buffer on Montford Avenue that the developers committed to preserving at the Council meeting has been clear-cut and graded." And the limited response by city staff, added Newman, "calls into real question the integrity off our staff and the City Council itself."
Not everyone agrees with Newman's assertions. Planning and Development Director Scott Shuford maintains that the developer is not in violation of the permit, and that the statements made by the developer promising to preserve the trees were "inaccurate" because keeping the existing 80-foot buffer contradicted the conceptual site plan the developers had submitted. That problem, says Shuford, was corrected by his staff during the hearing and reflected in the conditions approved by the Council.
Asked to respond to these charges, the developers instead issued a press release, insisting that it must be run verbatim. A subsequent version delivered some days later differed substantially from the last -- and, over time, glaring discrepancies between their account and Shuford's seemed to gradually drop out. A memo from Shuford received Jan. 14 as this issue went to press actually includes the final version of the developers' press release among the information it provides Council members in preparation for the Jan. 18 session, when Council was scheduled to consider the situation.
Conflicting opinions aside, the responses to this controversy clearly highlight the ambiguous nature of the seemingly airtight permitting process -- and the grave repercussions that ambiguity can have for the city and its residents. Indeed, the very language of the permit itself -- the developer's legal permission to proceed -- includes passages that appear to contradict each other.
Section one of the permit, under "Conditional Use Determinations," specifically states: "All existing perimeter vegetation will be preserved to meet the city's landscape requirements, supplemented with additional vegetation." But at the end of the permit is a list of 21 conditions approved by Council. Condition No. 18 states: "A landscape buffer containing the equivalent landscape material as a Type-A buffer should be provided along the Montford Avenue frontage."

Anonymous said...

And even as Montford residents were up in arms in the wake of the tree cutting, Mayor Charles Worley issued a Jan. 11 memo essentially cutting them out of the process -- and severely limiting Council members' ability to address citizen concerns or even explain what they themselves believed they were approving when they voted on the permit.
In the memo, Worley said he would put the Campus Crest project on the agenda of a future work session "for the very limited purpose of receiving a report from the Planning staff as to the developer's actions that have occurred and whether, in staff's opinion, they are in compliance with ... the permit. Questions from members of Council will be limited to clarifying or elaborating on information presented by staff. Questions concerning testimony and truthfulness thereof of witnesses at the conditional use public hearing, penalties of fines, or other matters of a similar nature will not be permitted. No public comment will be taken."
Whether conditions
Conditional-use-permit hearings are fundamentally different from the standard fare typically served up at Council meetings because, under state law, they're considered quasi-judicial proceedings. In other words, the stakes are raised: Such hearings are governed by strict rules of evidence and higher standards for approval. What's more, a petitioner can challenge the final vote to grant or deny the permit through the city's Board of Adjustment (and, if still not satisfied, in an appellate court).
In the past, some of the city's most controversial development projects -- such as the Wal-Mart Supercenter at the former Sayles-Biltmore Bleacheries site -- have required conditional-use permits.
In layman's terms, these permits amount to exceptions to the rules. A developer, for example, may request permission to build multifamily housing in a neighborhood zoned single-family residential -- and the city may decide to grant that permission, provided that certain conditions are met. But the UDO spells out in detail the criteria that must be satisfied in order to grant a conditional-use permit.
Back on Aug. 24, representatives of Campus Crest at Asheville, LLC, the developers of The Grove at Highland Park, came before City Council seeking permission to build a 154-unit apartment complex in Montford that would be marketed to UNCA students. But because of the size of the project (commonly referred to as Campus Crest in the ensuing debate), they needed a conditional-use permit in order to proceed with the plan.
As often happens in such hearings, the neighbors came out in droves to oppose the project, arguing that it would increase traffic, devalue adjacent properties, create an unacceptable amount of noise, and clash with the scale and style of nearby homes. One key point of discussion was the 80-foot swath of trees and vegetation along the Montford Avenue side of the proposed site. And some neighbors who'd complained about the project's likely aural and visual impacts found a measure of comfort in the developers' unequivocal promise to preserve the existing, mature vegetative buffer -- thus screening the large buildings from view.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

According to a transcript of that hearing, the following testimony was given by Campus Crest partner Mike Hartnett. He was joined at the lectern by the developers' attorney, Albert Sneed. Here is part of what they told City Council and assembled members of the public, under oath:
Harnett: "I'm not sure you'll ever get a true sight line on the property from Montford [Avenue], because we're going to be keeping the existing 80-foot tree buffer."
Sneed: "From the houses across the street on Montford, will you be able to see this property at all?"
Harnett: "Well, I've got a shot here [shows photograph of mature forest on overhead projector]. This is an actual photograph, a digital photograph. It's a view from the westernmost home adjacent or across the street from our property line. That's the current view, looking across Montford."
Sneed: "Do your plans envision cutting any of those trees?"
Harnett: "No, sir."
Sneed: "Do you have any other photographs?"
Harnett: "I've got the one next to the house to the east [shows photograph]. That's the existing vegetation along Montford. Once again, our plans show keeping the existing 80-foot width of vegetation from Montford down to our property line. One more shot [shows third photograph], the next time to the east. That's the existing vegetation that, once again, we plan on keeping."
The permit was approved on a 5-2 vote, with Newman and Council member Holly Jones opposed.
But according to the minutes of the meeting (which are considered by the courts to be the official record of the proceedings), Council members placed a number of conditions on the permit, including the following: "A 15-foot type 'A' buffer is required along the West, East and South sides of the property, all of which are heavily wooded. The project will be heavily buffered from adjoining properties by the preservation of existing vegetation supplemented with additional plant materials as needed."
A type 'A' buffer -- a combination of trees and shrubs planted to a depth of 15-feet -- is the minimum level of plantings the city can require in a development project. But 15 feet of newly planted trees are clearly different than 80 feet of mature, existing ones.
A Jan. 12 visit to the site by this reporter revealed extensive cutting and grading within the 80-foot swath of "existing vegetation" the developer had promised to preserve.
An inaccurate statement
On Dec. 16, after learning about the removal of the trees, Newman fired off an e-mail outlining his concerns to his Council colleagues and to Scott Shuford (whose department is charged with enforcing the rules). In that e-mail, Newman quoted Shuford's Nov. 16 e-mail to Council members, as follows:
"You may have been or will be contacted by Montford residents concerning the buffer to be provided along the Montford side of the Campus Crest project. The developer has removed some trees to accommodate the driveway. There will be a type A buffer installed; in addition, the developer has agreed to install 2 rows of 6'-8' tall Norway Spruce at 25' on center and staggered, so there would be 12.5' between each tree. This will allow for a complete evergreen visual barrier once the trees are mature. This approach and species was suggested by Tree Commission member Doc Halliday. As far as the site plan and code requirements are concerned, the developer is in complete compliance."

Anonymous said...

Newman, however, took issue with Shuford's assertion, noting: "There has been real damage to the site, and the property owners across the street on Montford Avenue will just have to live with it for a long time. The project was already going to have a major impact due to the level of grading necessary for the project, but it's just that [much] uglier because the buffer of the mature forest the developers told us they would preserve no longer exists.
"An even greater concern, however, is that this calls into real question the integrity of our staff and the City Council itself. When we approve developments, people expect the commitments that are made at our meetings to be upheld. The developers and the staff take an oath on the Bible at the beginning of our hearings and swear to us that the evidence that they are presenting to us is truthful. The citizens of our community should be able to take them, and us, at our word."
Asked about the matter, Shuford e-mailed this reporter the following response:
"During the developer's initial presentation at the City Council meeting, an inaccurate statement was made by the developer that an 80-foot undisturbed buffer would be provided along the Montford Avenue frontage. This was true only for the area adjacent to Klondyke Homes, where a wide buffer using existing vegetation was to be provided to separate Campus Crest from the Klondyke development. Grading for access, parking and building pads precluded such an extensive buffer in other areas along Montford Avenue. Later in the Council meeting, City staff suggested that a type A buffer be provided and existing vegetation be preserved as shown on the site plan. This wording became a condition imposed by Council in approving the project."
A matter of opinion
According to Barber Melton, former president of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, the Campus Crest controversy has an all-too-familiar ring to it:
"This is an ongoing problem. ... We've talked about this for 20 years -- enforcement, enforcement. It's easier [for developers] to go ahead and do what you want to do and get forgiveness than it is to follow the UDO. That's been our biggest complaint -- we have a set of guidelines, they are not followed. ... It's not only Campus Crest. ... I could go on and on.
"If you go into a meeting with the department heads in Planning or Engineering or with City Council, you will hear that 'We're trying to build the trust level up; it's very bad.' And when everyone sits down at the table, you'd be surprised about how much consensus you can come to. ... You will walk out of the room feeling like maybe you made a little progress, [but] then you go to the next Council meeting and, bless my soul, you've been stabbed in the back again. The credibility gap is alive and well, and the trust issue is very bad. We really need to sit down and have a long, slow process of trying to trust each other and know that we're not out to try and cut their throats and they're not out to try and cut ours."
Others share Melton's frustration. Montford resident Dee Eggers, a UNCA professor who'd asked Council to deny the permit during the Aug. 24 hearing, sent an e-mail to Brownie Newman on Jan. 9 saying she's "concerned and frankly angry that Asheville City Council has failed to do its job with respect to the Campus Crest development. I was at the 'quasi-judicial hearing' at which Campus Crest promised to leave an 80-foot buffer of trees along Montford Avenue. It is clear in the tapes of that meeting. They swore under oath that their testimony was the truth."

Anonymous said...

Communication -- or the lack of it -- appears to have been a key part of the problem. In a Jan. 11 memo to City Council, Shuford reiterated that "during the Council meeting at which the development was approved, the developer did state that an 80-foot buffer would be provided from Montford and clearly indicated that it would be undisturbed. As the meeting went on, staff stated that a buffer of that depth wouldn't be feasible due to grading, driveways and sidewalks and suggested language that would work with the site plan. Council adopted this language as suggested. It calls for a type A buffer and retention of some of the existing landscaping. This means that the Montford Avenue buffer will consist of both existing and installed landscaping."
But despite a careful review of the DVD of the meeting, this reporter (who originally covered it for Xpress) could not find any such statement by city staff to Council. Even when Council member Terry Bellamy expressly asked if the 80-foot buffer would be preserved, Shuford made no mention of any inaccurate statement by the developer, instead referring to the type A buffer. And Council member Newman said he has no recollection of it.
Truth and consequences
As public anger over the city's inaction grew and protest signs began cropping up in front of Montford homes, Newman told Xpress that he believes choosing not to levy some sort of punitive measure against the developer would send a negative message to the community.
"Why should people believe us anymore at conditional-use-permit hearings?" asked Newman, adding, "In the future, this could actually hurt our chances to promote growth and bring in business, because developers will know that they'll face even more resistance from neighborhoods. It will have a chilling effect. I want to be clear: I do not want to see this project killed; I'm not trying to be vindictive. We just need to ensure that standards are met consistently and that we enforce our regulations."
And in her Jan. 9 e-mail to Newman, Eggers wrote: "There are multiple issues here, including communication between City Council and City Planning (which approved a site plan that was not consistent with what was verbally and visually presented at the meeting), as well as the extent of the legal obligation incurred by the developers during the hearing. This letter is about the other main issue: This letter is about Council's response. I have asked about this, and I understand that the current plan of Council is to do nothing. The message this sends to the community is that you are not going to hold people responsible for their promises to Council.

Anonymous said...

Grove slapped with six figure lien

Three Abilene contractors have filed liens totaling more than half a million dollars against Campus Crest, LLC, a North Carolina-based company that built the Grove apartment complex.

John B. Painting, Wagley Construction and Mark Stalling Electric Inc. are seeking payment for labor and materials they supplied the Grove from July to September, according to affidavits filed with the Taylor County clerk's office, during the construction of the $10.7 million student housing complex. John B. Painting filed for $130,000 plus interest, Wagley Construction filed for almost half a million dollars and Mark Stalling Electric, Inc. filed for $119,005.79.

King Insulation filed a lien against Campus Crest in August for $11,047.52 but released the company from the claim two weeks later, according to an affidavit.

A lien allows a contractor to attempt to receive owed payment by attaching a claim to a property, according to the Texas Property Code. If the contractor does not receive payment, after the lien is filed they can sue for payment.

Grove management was unavailable for comment.

Richard Wagley, co-owner of Wagley Construction, said he filed for nearly a half million dollars originally and was paid $100,000 last week, bringing the lien amount to $332,907.60, according to an affidavit filed on Oct. 12.

Wagley Construction provided site work, including paving for sidewalks, curbs and gutters.

Wagley said he tried to contact the Grove for payment once every day since Sept. 25. He said he received various responses, including "the person who signs checks is not in the office" and "the computer is broken." Wagley said Grove management said
it would send money in "a few days," but he received nothing
until last week.

Wagley said he had to file a lien against the Grove after a lien was filed against Wagley Construction by its supplier, Bilcan Materials, for overdue payments. Wagley said he could not pay Bilcan Materials because the Grove had not paid him.

"I am responsible for their debt, and the Grove is responsible
for debt toward me," Wagley said. "All I want is to get paid for my services."

Wagley Construction sent a copy of the lien to its bank and talked to bank officials, who are in the process of trying to get the lien taken care of, Wagley said.

If the Grove continues to withold payment from the company, they will be taken to court.

"All the parties will probably end up suing them in one lump sum," Wagley said.

John B. Painting and Mark Stalling Electric were not available for comment. Will Stalling, operations manager for Mark Stalling Electric, Inc., declined to comment.

Anonymous said...

Campus Crest needs to get their stuff together

WHEN SOMETHING SOUNDS too good to be true, it usually is. This could very well be said about The Grove.
It would be hard to blame any on-campus decision maker for the problems that came with The Grove's expansion to our campus. With all available information, the decision to bring The Grove to USA seemed like a no-brainer.
Several other college campuses around the nation also bought into the hype that was The Grove. Campus Crest had six Grove projects in construction this year, according to Campus Crest's Web site. Prior to this year, there were only four Groves around the nation.
This year was also the first year Campus Crest experienced wide-spread difficulties with their housing units. The stories of broken promises, delayed opening and initial unfavorable living conditions were not just being told at The Grove at the University of South Alabama. Similar stories were also being told by students at Abilene, Texas, and Ellensburg, Wash.
Delayed move ins and disappointments seemed to be a common theme at several of The Grove housing units built this year. Now, lawsuits can be added to this list.
Recently a class action suit was filed against The Grove at USA for misrepresenting the terms of the lease. As it turns out, students living at The Grove do have to follow on-campus rules and regulations.
In Abilene, Texas, The Grove was sued for another reason: non-payment to subcontractors. The courts in Abilene have placed a half-a-million-dollar lien against The Grove on behalf of three subcontractors who claim that they never received payment for their services. Additionally, a subcontractor working on The Grove in Mobile has also complained of The Grove failing to pay them for their work.
Campus Crest plans to build seven more Groves this coming year. Plus, they will expand their complex on USA's campus. Just hopefully they have their stuff together this time and handle their workload. If not, we are sure to hear about more Grove woes again this time next year.

Anonymous said...

Writer learns 'too good to be true' lesson at The Grove
By: Jesse Williams
Section: Opinion

We went the first few days without any hot water or internet. The toilet clogs every once in a while, and the faucet to the bathroom is incredibly loose. One baby yank is all it will take, and I'll have a new hole in the tub. There's still no cable. I understand that leaks, holes and other hazards must top the "To Do" list, but the staff shouldn't give residents the run-around. Every time I went to the front desk, the answer was, "Someone will be at your apartment today."

Of course, I knew our apartment situation wasn't the worst. Every day my roommate and I would hear some new horror story. Broken glass and broken furniture would be added on as extra d├ęcor. Workers discovered a new way to test how adequate an apartment is-just use it yourself. One lucky resident got a new-used apartment. Her amenities included fresh tortillas in the microwave, a jug of water in the refrigerator and urine and cigarettes in the toilet.

Campus Crest obviously has planning issues, but they also have issues with financial agreements . There seem to be significant differences in lease terms, rent and other fees levied on student tenants.You can read what tenants have to say about The Grove in other cities at www.apartmentratings.com. You can also talk to Campus Crest Real Estate Management at 704-496-2500, e-mail the president herself, Shannon King at shannon.king@campuscrest.com or mail inquiries to: Campus Crest Group, 2100 Rexford Road Suite 414, Charlotte, North Carolina.

I don't blame the local staff for tenant problems, but they will be the target of pitch forks of the angry mob, since they must deal with tenants and their problems on a daily basis. I try to remember that some of the faces I've seen at the front desk I've also seen hauling books on campus like me. Hearing people's complaints over and over doesn't make their school day go any smoother. Both sides of the desk are frustrated over matters that consume their time and keep them from concentrating on what students are really here for-an education.

I believe the real culprits are in Charlotte, N.C. Campus Crest established The Grove so students could have it easier as they prepare for the real world.

"Be careful. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is,." If that is the lesson of The Grove, then I have definitely learned the lesson.

Anonymous said...

A Charlotte, N.C.-based company that constructed student housing apartments at 29th Street North and Oliver was late paying two construction bills worth more than $140,000.

An executive with Campus Crest LLC says the firm has a dispute with Las Vegas-based U.S. Resources Co. over the installation of cabinets and millwork in the 192-unit apartment complex. The disputed $125,592 should be resolved within a few weeks, says Brian Sharpe, president of Campus Crest Construction and Development.

Sharpe also says administrative glitches likely delayed a $15,559 payment to Wichita’s Lusco Brick & Stone Co.

“I guarantee you it’s a timing issue,” says Sharpe.

Both companies filed mechanic’s liens against Campus Crest in November.

Bruce Gilkeson, president of Lusco Brick, says his company has been paid.

“All in all, it was a pretty nice project for us,” he says. “We would have like to get paid a little more promptly.”

A representative from U.S. Resources didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Anonymous said...

Apartment Builder Sues Jonesboro Over Pipes
By Mark Friedman

A contractor working on an $8.25 million apartment complex project in Jonesboro has sued the city of Jonesboro over the use of pipes.

Campus Crest Development LLC of North Carolina, said the city of Jonesboro had issued a permit for it to use polyethylene pipes, which are commonly known as PEX piping, in the construction of the Grove at Jonesboro, according to Campus Crest's lawsuit, filed in Craighead County Circuit Court.

The Grove will have 10 apartment buildings and a clubhouse next to the campus of Arkansas State University at Jonesboro.

The PEX pipes meet the state and international plumbing codes, Dan Norman, vice president of development of Campus Crest, said in an affidavit filed in the case.

On March 28, Norman said he learned the city wouldn't inspect the apartments if PEX were used. Campus Crest's attorney, Jim Lyons of Jonesboro, said the inspection is necessary for the project to move forward.

The city's problem with the pipes dates back to 1992 when the city passed an ordinance that prohibited builders from using non-metallic piping or fittings that would be used for the water supply. The pipes could be used for drain water or wastewater though. The apartments won't be ready for the fall semester if the city doesn't send an inspector to the site, Lyons said.

Arkansas Business Book of Lists

"If we are required to revamp the plans ... it's going to throw them several weeks behind," Lyons said. "When a project isn't completed in a timely fashion, it gives [the contractor] a bad name."

In August, about 500 students are expected to move into the apartments, Lyons said. If the apartments aren't completed, Campus Crest will be responsible for finding temporary housing for the students.

An emergency hearing was scheduled for last Friday, after Arkansas Business went to press.

Campus Crest asked a judge to require the city to inspect the apartments and permit the use of PEX.

The attorney representing the city could not be reached for comment.

Anonymous said...

Grove woes not limited to USA
Ashley Gruner
Senior Reporter

Issue date: 11/5/07 Section: News
PrintEmail DoubleClick Any Word Page 1 of 2 next > While most students living at The Grove student housing complex are slowly becoming satisfied with their living arrangements, several contractors who worked on The Grove site are still experiencing difficulties.
The Grove was built and financed by a North Carolina-based company called Campus Crest, LLC. Campus Crest specializes in building and operating student housing and developed similar housing complexes in North Carolina, Georgia and New Mexico.
Aaron Akers, founder of Makson Plumbing and Construction, Inc., said they were the original plumbing contractors on the job at Mobile's The Grove. "We terminated our contract with them, as a result of non-payment. Another contracting agency took our place," Makson said.
"We are in negotiations now trying to get face value for our work. Unless we reach a settlement, we will be filing a lawsuit against The Grove." Akers believes that a settlement with Campus Crest is close to being reached, but not a fair one. "The settlement is much lower than what is actually owed to us, but that seems to be the pattern throughout," Akers said.
Akers also explained this problem has also affected several of his other contractors as well, in other Grove complexes across the United States. "The Grove in Jacksonville, Fla., is included in the settlement. We have finished our job there, but have not been paid yet."
Makson Construction, Inc. is a North Carolina-based general contracting and development company specializing in residential and multi-family housing. They have general contractor licenses in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. They also have plumbing contractor licenses in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
Three construction contractors in Abilene, Texas, have also filed liens against Campus Crest. The contractors are seeking more than half a million dollars in unpaid labor and materials from July to September.
A lien allows a contractor to attempt to receive owed payment by attaching a claim to a property. If the contractor does not receive payment, they can sue for payment after the lien is filed.