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Another Stafford home in peril page 2
Widewater Village resident worries whether his home will survive slipping slope

 The backyard of 116 Everard Court in Stafford County has collapsed, and the homeowner worries about the soil beneath his home. The county is working with the homeowner and his next-door neighbors to find a solution to the problem.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 10/24/2011

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A step to preventing these problems is to ensure that the ground is never oversaturated.

"If you can keep the water from getting into the soil, and get it into the bottom of the slope before it seeps in, then you'll be OK," said Nicholas, who has been a professor at UMW for 20 years.

'WHY BOTHER INVESTING?'

For Dowling, the problem started at the base of his sloped yard, on common property he said is maintained by the Widewater Village Homeowners Association.

"I had no reason to believe a little erosion down there would spread," he said.

But since March, the hole has gradually gotten bigger and deeper, forming stair steps that are taking over his yard and spreading to properties on each side.

Dowling, who bought the house at foreclosure in 2009, said a natural water source flows directly under the property and leads to a drain at the base of his backyard hill, bordered by trees that provide a buffer from U.S. 1.

He now worries if what is happening in the yard is also happening underneath the house, built in 2005.

"Why bother investing in a home if it's going to be condemned?" Dowling said.

Armstrong Management Services Inc. has been working on the situation, Dowling said, and arranged for county representatives to inspect it last month.

Armstrong's Widewater Village representative could not be reached for comment.

PLAN FOR AUSTIN RIDGE

Last week, the Stafford Board of Supervisors took a step toward helping the two families repair their Austin Ridge backyards, by releasing a developer's bond. The county will oversee $62,000 in costs associated with stabilizing the land.

The problem on Brush Everard Court in North Stafford has grown over the past six weeks, forming soon after the August earthquake and tropical storms that swept through the region.

The two houses were condemned in early September, and erosion continues to get closer to the structures.

Insurance with USAA does not cover any loss caused by landslides, the homeowners have been told.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said its disaster-relief funds cannot be used for "aid at the level of financial assistance your situation appears to require."

Requests to meet with the developer were denied, leading the county to use the bond money as a last resort.


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