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Volusia couple says retention pond is creeping closer to home

HOA owns retention pond, but won’t pay for repair

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A Volusia County couple said the retention pond behind their home is creeping closer and closer, and they believe the clock is ticking before it damages their property.

The view from Norman and Barbara Blodgett’s Florida room is picture-perfect, except the view is getting too close for comfort.

“My wife and I have watched it just progress and the more it progresses, the scarier it gets,” Norman Blodgett said.

Over the years, the strip of land separating his home from the retention pond has gotten smaller and smaller.

“This could not have been how it was when we moved in,” he said.

They bought the home in 2004 and in 2009 started seeing changes.

Their homeowner’s insurance company hired an engineering firm to investigate.

“The north pond bank, south of the Blodgett residence, was unstable,” an engineer wrote in the report.

The reason: “long-term erosion from currents, turbulence, and stormwater runoff,” the report states.

“It just substantially keeps getting worse day-by-day,” Norman Blodgett said.

“If the erosion continues,” according to the report, “It could result in catastrophic failure of the lanai structural elements.”

The report also confirmed the Blodgett’s biggest fear, “Having the Florida room break off and end up in the retention pond,” Norman Blodgett said.

Norman Blodgett said he presented the findings to his Homeowners Association, the HOA had plants installed along the shoreline and also bags filled with pine needles which they hoped would stop the erosion.

Blodgett said it hasn’t.

“Most of the plants have washed out or died,” Blodgett said. “The pine needle bags have not done anything.”

The HOA has not agreed to pay for a more permanent fix, according to Blodgett.

Legal analyst Steven Kramer said retention ponds are considered community property.

He said since the HOA owns the pond, the HOA could be responsible for footing the bill to stop the erosion.

"This is not an uncommon occurrence," Kramer said. "That HOA has a duty to maintain the fitness of that retention pond area to protect the adjoining properties."

The attorney for the Jubilee Addition Homeowners Association, Damien Richards, wrote in an email to News 6, "the HOA is following the guidance of the St. John's Water Management District.

William Carlie, a now-retired compliance coordinator with St. Johns Water Management District, wrote in a 2018 letter regarding a retention wall “...we find no basis to require this action.”

He also wrote “the association bears any liability for its actions or lack thereof,” according to the letter.

"We can’t sell because nobody wants to buy the problem here, so it’s something that has to be taken care of," Blodgett said.

News 6 spoke with Allen Baggett, Environmental Resource Program Coordinator with St John's Water Management District.

The district is not in the business of deciding who pays for what, according to Baggett.

The district said it is waiting for the HOA and the property owner to work it out and the district will grant a permit for any corrective action.


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