Published: Mar 09, 2013 12:00 AM
Modified: Mar 09, 2013 08:41 PM
CARRBORO - After three months of construction, the staircases in every building at Collins Crossing are safe by town standards.
Town Code Enforcement Supervisor Mike Canova said Alcurt Carrboro LLC met the town’s March 4 deadline for completing the staircase repairs, except for a few minor issues that don’t affect the stairs’ safety.
“For the most part, they are safe,” he said. “[The owners] have been working hard to get the repairs done and we won’t assess any penalties for the few incidental issues remaining.”
Alcurt owns almost 70 percent of the units in Collins Crossing (formerly Abbey Court), which is managed by Aspen Square Management. Alcurt bought the units last June from the former management company Tar Heel Companies.
Collin Crossing residents are a diverse population of mostly Latinos and Burmese immigrants. Residents have complained for years about problems with crime, pests in the apartments and dangerous stairs.
The complaints started as early as 2008, and in 2010 the town’s code enforcement officers reported broken stairs in multiple buildings, according to town records.
Unsafe stairs were reported months later for Building N, and the town fined the company $2,000 when it did not address the situation.
In July 2011, the property was written up again for unsafe stairs in Building N. In November 2011, Building A was cited for unsafe stairs.
Last November, a 10-year-old boy was injured after falling through a deteriorated stair tread in Building B.
After that, Canova and his staff inspected all the buildings’ stairwells and found almost all were dangerous.
The town sent a letter to Alcurt in early December 2012 and fliers let residents know the stairs were unsafe but could still be used.Assessment fee
The Collins Crossing homeowners association voted Wednesday night to approve a $3,548 assessment per unit to cover the costs of the staircase repair and other building renovations. Unit owners can pay it all at once or over 12 months.
The association also approved the assessment fee budget, which allots $54,270 to staircase repairs.
The association originally proposed a $5,406 assessment, but many low-income unit owners said the fee was too high and also asked for the option of paying in installments.
Shortly after the assessment fee was proposed last December, unit owner Wendy Dale filed a lawsuit against the homeowners association Well claiming the fee was an unlawful use of its authority.Delinquent dues
Canova said the 40-year-old staircases were not repaired or properly maintained under Tar Heel Properties’ management.
“The difficulty was that the management would always change and I was talking to a different person every month,” he said.
At Wednesday’s homeowners association meeting, vice president of Aspen Square Management and homeowners association president Jeffrey Strole said Tar Heel Companies had failed to collect $45,000 in delinquent homeowners dues when Alcurt bought the units last June.
Strole said his company has made several unsuccessful requests for Tar Heel Properties’ financial records.