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Group protests against home builder over fee
Friday, 31 December 2004

Group protests against home builder over fee
Assessment leads to protest
Berea
- Residents of a Ryan Homes subdivision notched up their protest against the builder Wednesday, when more than 75 of them demonstrated at a new Ryan development in Berea. The demonstrators, many of them owners of Ryan homes in the Westfield Park subdivision in Olmsted Township, accused the builder of failing to disclose costly assessments...

Group protests against home builder over fee
Assessment leads to protest
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Frank Bentayou Plain Dealer Reporter
Berea, Cleveland - Residents of a Ryan Homes subdivision notched up their protest against the builder Wednesday, when more than 75 of them demonstrated at a new Ryan development in Berea.
The demonstrators, many of them owners of Ryan homes in the Westfield Park subdivision in Olmsted Township, accused the builder of failing to disclose costly assessments from Cuyahoga County. Each must pay more than $4,400 for a $6 million water and sewer expansion sought by developers.
From noon until after 2 p.m., protesters held signs printed with "Buyer Beware, Hidden Fees" and stood at an entrance to Sandstone Ridge, a development-in-progress near Nobottom and Lewis roads.
The crowd parted as concrete trucks rumbled past or residents of the sparsely inhabited development drove through.
Why were Westfield Park residents demonstrating at a different subdivision in another town?
"Westfield is sold out," organizer and Westfield resident Rob Brandt said. "Ryan is still building and selling homes at the Berea development, so we're warning buyers about the builder."
Work on the sewer project was completed in 2002, but some builders said they, like buyers, didn't receive bills until this month.
Three other builders - Pulte Homes, Wheaton Development and Garland Griffin Homes - agreed to pay the assessments for their customers.
Ryan, which built and sold 136 homes in Westfield, has not agreed to such a concession.
A phone receptionist at Ryan's area headquarters said Wednesday that all company managers were on vacation "out of town" and not available to comment. In the past, Ryan officials said they disclosed the assessments in sales agreements that buyers initialed.
Many Westfield buyers said Ryan sales agents never disclosed the assessments, even though their bills, at $4,405.92, were higher than those at nearby developments.
"Most of us admit to initialing an addendum" that mentioned in vague terms some future assessment, Brandt said. "But we believe they had a responsibility for more specific disclosure about the amount of the assessment."
He and other residents have discussed their legal options.
Homeowner Dan Wagner said he received two notices from the county on Dec. 24, one demanding payment by Dec. 31, the other informing him he had until April 4, 2005, to pay his assessment. He bought his house last May. After earlier protests, the county engineer's office extended the deadline for payment.
Dan Chernosky, another Westfield resident, said he asked about the scope of the assessment in April 2003, when he initialed the addendum to his purchase agreement. The sales agent, he said, told him it would be a "couple of hundred dollars."
"It's a little more than that," Chernosky said.
 
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