THE VILLAGES, Fla. (FOX 35 Orlando) - Fifteen months after a series of sinkholes swallowed significant portions of two properties in The Villages, neighbors are still dealing with a massive mess.
Two condemned houses on McLawren Terrance sit empty, as cracks down the front of the structures are seemingly getting bigger. The lawns are unkempt and the street in front of them is still blocked off. One of the large sinkholes has been filled with sand, meant to be a temporary fix.
“The houses look awful,” said Barbara Gaines.
She and her neighbors were all dressed in red Tuesday morning to attend the Marion County Commission meeting, telling the board about the lingering sink holes and the safety issues they have created.
“Because this has been going on for 15 months, that road is starting to deteriorate,” Gaines told commissioners. “If that road deteriorates to the point where it collapses, we have 75 homes that will be totally inaccessible.
A stormwater pipe runs right between the condemned houses. The sinkhole damaged that large pipe creating drainage issues, so the water is being diverted about a block down.
“You see fresh cracks here which means that all of this is in jeopardy at the moment,” Gaines explained, pointing to where the road is starting to deteriorate.
Since this is a private community, The Villages District Four owns the roadway. Their spokesperson said their engineers are telling them that they cannot fix the road, until the two comdemned properties are shored up and stabilized.
Permits to fix the properties expire in June and July. Neighbors worry the necessary repairs will not be done by then because it doesn't look like there's being any work done. The holding company that purchased both damaged homes after the sinkhole did not return calls from FOX 35 News.
Marion County officials are in charge of the permitting, do neighbors asked commissioners to not renew those permits. They want county leaders to urge the new property owner to get the sinkhole damage fixed before the upcoming hurricane season.
“What we are hoping is by bringing awareness to this issue that you will do everything in your power to ensure they do not get extensions on those permits so that this can move forward and we can get the road repaired,” Gaines explained.
Commissioners told the folks dressed in red that they will look into the issue.