Ann Bates told me a story I couldn’t believe until I checked it out.
Bates bought a home in the Pinon Sun Townhomes in 1984. Her new unit started flooding during cloudbursts in 1990.
Every couple years a cloudbust brought a deluge that flooded the ravine behind her building, turned it into a lake with water flowing so fast it sometimes pushed through her basement window and gushed inside, ruining her walls, carpeting and furniture.
It happened repeatedly. But no one could seem to figure out why.
After the fourth incident over a 10-year period, Bates became frustrated and in 2004, she sued her Pinon Sun Homeowners Association as well as a neighboring condominium complex, an apartment complex and a church.
After years in court, Bates won a $118,000 settlement. And the insurance company for the townhome and condo HOAs spent $270,000 expanding the stormwater sewer to handle the runoff.
During the years the laewsuit dragged on, Bates couldn’t live in her home. It filled with mold that contamined the entire place. She stayed with friends for many months before finally moving in with her sister in Georgia. She still lives there in a rented condo.
Bates said her life has been ruined by the townhome, valued by the El Paso County Assessor’s office at $172,000.
She can’t live in it because it would cost $15,000 to $30,000 to remove the mold. Years of paying attorneys and other bills have left her broke. She can’t afford to fix it. And she wouldn’t anyway because of the ongoing threat of flooding. She can’t sell her unit for obvious reasons and she can’t lease it.
Even worse, Bates said, her HOA is punishing her for suing. She describes HOA leaders as abusive. Most recently, the HOA ripped the deck off the back of her home. HOA president Bob Podunovich said he determined the deck was acting as a dam, flooding Bates’ home and her neighbor’s unit.
City officials and water experts disagree. In fact, city water engineer Lisa Ross said runoff from Picturesque Circle was wrongly drains onto private property of the townhome complex, down the ravine and into Bates’ basement.
The city identified the project as a high priority and had plans to fix it. Until, that is, the city’s stormwater fee ended last January and money for drainage evaporated.
So now Ann sits in Georgia with a townhome she can’t use in Colorado Springs. She fears she’ll never be able to live in it again, or lease it, or sell it.