• Residents fear clay wall will crash onto building

    By: Ken Lemon


    LOWELL, N.C. - A 25-foot clay wall has some neighbors living in fear in a Lowell retirement community.

    They're scared it could collapse at any moment.

    Eyewitness News reporter Ken Lemon went to track down who is responsible for the wall and what can be done so neighbors are safe.

    James Donaldson looks behind his home every day and sees this wall of clay a few steps away.

    “Someday we are going to have a big problem here," Donaldson said.

    The developer of Magnolia Place Retirement Community was supposed to complete a wall to protect the 11 homes on Owens Court but the company dissolved.

    Its office is now a consignment shop.

    The developer did not finish building a wooden fence and the part it did build is buckling in some areas.

    “Every time it rains you can sit here and watch it come down," Donaldson said. "It just slowly keeps eroding in."

    "There is a lot of concern about trees falling into those places and people getting hurt or killed," said Ralph Duncan who is with the homeowners association.

    Members of the homeowners association have pleaded with Lowell city leaders to fix the problem.

    The city manager said the city can't build a wall on private property. It's too expensive and the city would be liable for any damages caused by the wall. The mayor said the city is already responsible for the problem here.

    "I think it's horrible,” Mayor Larry Simonds said. “Words can't describe it."

    He said city officials should not have let the developer build there without assuring the company would complete the work.
    “The best way to solve it is to go ahead and fix it," Simonds said.

    He said the city can put a lien on the property and seize it to pay for the work.

    The city manager and another councilman said they are looking at other options like getting a judge's order to find the developer and make it pay.

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