Residents of The Ponds near Summerville feel the homebuilder misled them

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DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) – Homeowners in The Ponds community in Dorchester County, near Summerville, claim a home builder made false promises to them when they bought their home.

Over the past few days, neighbors have emailed a copy of a map showing nature trails in and around the neighborhood. However, very small print indicates that it is a dynamic document and is subject to change.

“I understand the things that they can’t give us, that we don’t have,” owner Babby Rajt said. “I don’t understand that we take away the things we already have. These trails, the few that remain, are here. We don’t need to make them across the highway.

On April 18, the county negotiated with homebuilder Kolter Homes to amend the original 2005 development agreement – between the county and Greenwood Development – which the county called “vague”, awful and “open”.

“I can’t hold a developer responsible for anything that’s not in the development agreement,” Dorchester County Councilman David Chinnis said. “I can’t hold them accountable for a card they gave to someone at closing that isn’t part of the development deal. There’s no way for me to do that. Can owners do this? Perhaps.”

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

According to documents, when the subdivision was created for development, there were 18 miles of existing trails on the entire property.

“When I first moved onto the property, I was given a golf cart ride of the ponds, the trails I just mentioned and was led to believe it was going to be expanded,” said the owner Joe Kirby.

Now neighbors say it’s three and a half miles of nature trail. They feel they have been misled when buying their home.

“Kolter absolutely misled every resident at the time, offering or showing us trails that don’t exist, putting fine print in every contract,” owner Brian Riesen said. “Kolter 100% false announced that this community was the first economic, social and cultural center of Summerville.”

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

“As I look at this map and see this, there’s a lot that’s changed, and again, as I’ve said before, there’s in one case at least one place where there’s a house on one of those trails,” Chinnis said. “Ultimately, this identification is not part of the development agreement. It’s part of the development plan, the PD side of it, which is very different from this deal, in my opinion, and quite honestly, I think it’s safe to say in the county attorney’s opinion.

Adjustments to the development agreement between the county and Kolter Homes must go through three county council readings before being implemented.

Jeff Vandewiel, Community Manager for the Charleston Division of Kolter Homes, released the following statement:

“For several days this year, Kolter Homes negotiated with Dorchester County leaders to reach a mutually approved agreement on planned improvements and the continued development of The Ponds neighborhood. We realize that no one plan will suit everyone, but we believe this new shared vision will continue to ensure that The Ponds is a wonderful place to live and will benefit the greater Dorchester County community.

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