By the banks of the lagoons, Sun City residents await repairs

August 16, 2009 

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Dan and Linda Rocco of Sun City Hilton Head stand next to a lagoon behind their home Friday. It is one of 18 Pulte has said it will fix.

SARAH WELLIVER/THE ISLAND PACKET

When they bought their Sun City Hilton Head home three years ago, Don and Linda Rocco paid an additional $8,000 to live by a lagoon.

"You pay a premium to live on a lagoon, and then you have to look at this?" Don Rocco said, pointing to the pond which is now overrun with grass and weeds.

The lagoon next to the Rocco home is one of 18 that Sun City developer Pulte Homes has promised to fix. That promise was made in January to about 550 residents at a meeting organized by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

In March, the developer hosted a meeting for residents and told them the work would be completed by

Aug. 15. A "lagoon action plan" submitted to DHEC shows the repairs include dredging sediment, regrading lagoon banks and raising water levels by changing the height of drains.

That deadline has now been pushed to January, according to Pulte spokeswoman Caryn Klebba.

"It's a complicated process, so we are just making sure everything is done to bring them into full compliance with the plans," she said. "We will be done by January."

Lagoons are usually designed to filter rainwater before it flows into nearby rivers, streams and wetlands. Last year, DHEC said Pulte had built a number of lagoons in newer Sun City neighborhoods that didn't match their original permits. Pulte has until January to bring the lagoons into compliance, said Richard Geer, a DHEC engineer and project manager.

"They also have the ability to ask for an extension if they don't think they can get it done in time," Geer said.

Rick McCollough, chairman of a resident committee dedicated to the lagoon issue, isn't sure the problem will be fixed by January.

"We sit and wait rather patiently," he said. "The problem is, it isn't getting done very fast. We're getting to the point where we want some action here."

The Roccos agree.

Linda Rocco said they started to see the weeds in the pond in 2007, a year after they bought their house.

"Now it's way worse," she said.

"We're embarrassed by it, especially when people come over and say, 'Oh,' when they see the lagoon," her husband added. "The view is disappointing."

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