Residents at The Ponds near Summerville feel home builder misled them

Luna Ruth

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) – Homeowners in The Ponds community in Dorchester County near Summerville say they were made false promises by a home builder when they were purchasing their homes.

Over the past several days, neighbors have been emailing a copy of a map showing the nature trails in and around the neighborhood. However, there is very small print that says it’s a dynamic document and is subject to change.

“I understand the things they can’t give us, that we don’t have,” homeowner Babby Rajt said. “I do not understand taking away the things we already have. Those trails, the few that are left, are here. We don’t need to manufacture them across the highway.”

Back on April 18, the county mediated with home builder Kolter Homes to change the original 2005 development agreement – made between the county and Greenwood Development — which the county has called “vague,” horrible” and “open-ended.”

“I cannot hold a developer responsible for something that’s not in the development agreement,” Dorchester County Councilmember David Chinnis said. “I cannot hold them responsible for a map they handed to someone at closing that’s not part of the development agreement. There’s no way possible for me to do that. Can the homeowners do that? Possibly.”

Part of the agreement includes Kolter having to install 10 miles of walking trails and keep existing trails intact.

According to documents, when the subdivision was first brought up for development, there were 18 miles of existing trails throughout the property.

“When I was settling on the property, I was given a golf cart tour of The Ponds, the trails I just mentioned and was led to believe that it was going to be expanded,” homeowner Joe Kirby said.

Now, neighbors say that’s down to three and a half miles of natural trails. They feel they were misled when buying their homes.

“Kolter absolutely misled all residents at the time, proposing or showing us trails that do not exist, putting fine print in every contract,” homeowner Brian Riesen said. “Kolter 100% false advertised this community as being the premier economic, social, cultural hub of Summerville.”

Meanwhile, the county says the map included in the original plan is not enforceable.

“As I look through this map and see this, there’s a lot of things that have changed, and again, as I said before, there’s in one case at least one spot where there’s a house on one of these trails,” Chinnis said. “In the end, this identification is not part of the development agreement. It is part of the development plan, the P-D side of this, which is very different than that agreement, in my opinion, and quite honestly, I think it’s safe to say in the county attorney’s opinion.”

The adjustments to the development agreement between the county and Kolter Homes must go through three readings at county council before they’re implemented.

Jeff Vandewiel, the community director for Kolter Homes’ Charleston Division, released the following statement:

“Over multiple days this year, Kolter Homes negotiated with Dorchester County leaders to reach the mutually approved agreement on the planned improvements and continued development of The Ponds neighborhood. We realize no single plan will please everyone, but we believe this new shared vision will continue to ensure The Ponds is a wonderful place to call home and will benefit the greater Dorchester County community.”

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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