Families in Oakboro neighborhood say someone should have warned them about sewage smell

OAKBORO, N.C. — Some families in the Ruby Ridge neighborhood in Oakboro who bought newly constructed homes say they knew the McCoy’s Creek pump station was nearby, but they didn’t think the smell would be an issue. Now that they’re living there, they say the stench can be unbearable.

“It’s not bad every day. It’s not bad 24 hours a day. But when it’s bad, it’s very bad,” said Alan Griffith, who lives in the neighborhood. “Who wants to smell sewage while you are trying barbecue? Who wants to smell sewage when your kid’s playing in the yard?”

Other neighbors say Griffith’s family may have known about the odor, but they did not. They say they stopped by their homes often during the construction process, but never when the odor was noticeable. They feel the builder, Adams Homes, had a duty to warn them before they bought their houses.

But Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke says the law doesn’t seem to agree.

According to Stoogenke, the law says the seller has to give the buyer a specific disclosure form before closing. No. 26 asks if there is “any noise, odor, smoke, etc., from commercial, industrial, or military sources which affects the property?”

But the seller doesn’t have to answer “yes” or “no.” He or she can check “No representation.”

In addition, if the seller is a builder, like in this case, the company does not have to fill out the form at all.

Stoogenke suggests taking these precautions:

- Make sure you don’t just research the home and the neighborhood, but the surrounding area too.

- Check the property different days and times before you buy.

- If you’re buying a resale, choose a real estate agent who knows the area and will ask the right questions.

Even though it seems Adams Homes did not have a duty to disclose the issue in this case, Stoogenke still asked the company if it wished to provide a statement for his report. It did not respond in time for this report, other than to send a marketing email.

Is there any hope for the residents of Ruby Ridge?

Stoogenke asked multiple officials in Stanly County if there’s anything they are doing or can do to control the smell.

The county manager emailed Channel 9 the following response:

“The McCoy’s Creek regional sewer pump station has been at its current location since 1981. As such, it pre-dates all of the residential development that has occurred in the immediate area. The County purchased the pump station and a wastewater treatment plant from the Town of Oakboro in 2013. The County has and will continue to take steps to mitigate odor at the regional pump station site.

“At the same time, the pump station has been there for decades and sewer flows from Locust, Stanfield, Red Cross and Oakboro all flow through this regional pump station. As such, the waste in the collection system can be fairly septic by the time it reaches this point in the collection discharge process. The County is currently working to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant and the McCoy’s Creek pump station. However, the project is only in the design phase and the actual construction/renovation is still at least 12-18 months away.

“Our staff is cognizant of the odor at the pump station and works to replace the carbon filters in the manhole vent pipes upstream of the regional pump station on a regular basis. Further, twice per year our staff removes solids and grit that have built up in the bottom of the wet well. It is likely some of the recent complaints were triggered by this process given we must blow the hydrogen gas out of the wet well before removing the solids. This process does increase the concentration of odor temporarily.”

(Watch below: Neighbors say odor from plant near state line remains)