With at least four subdivisions in Loudon County abandoned in recent years by bankrupt developers - leaving unfinished roads, lots and, in some cases, no street lights - homeowners have been left scrambling for answers.
Among the most critical concern: who is responsible for subpar roads and other incomplete infrastructure?
Loudon County Commission tabled a resolution Monday night to accept three roads in the Amberly Meadows subdivision that still require a final 1 1/2 inch coat of asphalt and do not meet county standards.
The developer of the subdivision previously went bankrupt and a letter of credit was not renewed. The subdivision is located near the border with Knox County.
"As per regulation and law there was a letter of credit in place at a certain time with BB&T bank to cover the completion of, in particular, the roads of the subdivision if the developer abandoned the project," Loring Justice, an attorney with the Amberly Meadows Home Owners Association, said.
Justice said the bank failed to let the county know that the letter of credit was about to become void.
"We found, unfortunately, also that the county let the letter of credit lapse, and BB&T bank has refused, at least to this point, to cover," Justice said. "We think BB&T bank ought to cover, and we think they should have come to the county, given that the county does business with them, and informed the county that indeed this letter of credit is about to expire."
He said that while the bank was under no legal obligation to pay for the completion of the roads, the company should do so to continue a good faith relationship with the county.
"Typically, it's a thing that most smart banks would do because banks don't usually like to alienate a county," Justice said. "So, my hope would be that the county exercising its authority looking seriously in the eye at BB&T would lead to a resolution on BB&T's part so the county's not out that money."
The roads would cost an estimated $50,000-$60,000 to get them up to county standards. Commissioner David Meers asked whether any other similar circumstances existed inside county jurisdiction.
"Would records indicate anything such as this occurring in the past, and, if so, what were the circumstances?" Meers asked.
Mayor Estelle Herron and Commissioner Don Miller said that they couldn't think of any in the last eight to 10 years. Herron suggested the county seek advice from its attorney, Bob Bowman.
Hampton Creek and Sweetwater Creek, both within the city of Loudon, have experienced development problems after the initial investor pulled out. The developer of nearby Lighthouse Pointe, JCG & Associates, also previously went bankrupt.
Tim Scott, a resident at Hampton Place, said the roads in the neighborhood still required a finishing coat of asphalt, street lights and cul-de-sacs to more easily allow emergency vehicles to get in and out of the community.
While some homeowners, like Santiago Correa, purchased home sites from the original developer, Scott bought his property from United Community Bank. The subdivision consists of three roads, and neither homeowners nor the bank know who is responsible for their completion.
Scott said UCB sold a remaining 35.18 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the homes to Gary Klemz, who could not be reached for comment.
Records with the Loudon County Tax Assessor's Office indicate that the market value on the 35.18 acres is $436,200. UCB sold the acreage to Klemz and wife, Cynthia, for $120,000 in late June 2011. The 35.18 acres was initially going to be phases two and three of the subdivision project.
"What they did when they did that is they landlocked us to where now even if the city agreed to take it, they couldn't because there's no cul-de-sacs and no place to put them because they sold all the property," Scott said about the bank selling the property to Klemz.
Scott said cul-de-sacs were important for any potential emergency and rescue needs, noting that a child recently required medical attention in the subdivision.
"Fortunately, the ambulances, there was enough room for everybody to get in, but if we have a house on fire, we need an ambulance down here at the end, there's no place" to turn around, Scott said.
Correa, who has four children, emphasized the community-wide need for lights and cul-de-sacs in the subdivision.
"I think it's important not just for my family for everybody in the subdivision," Correa said.
Steve Hurst, with UCB, said the bank no longer owned anything in the subdivision. "We don't own any of that," Hurst said. "All that as far as I know was sold at foreclosure."
Scott said a previous conversation with Hurst did not turn up any answers.
"His position was, 'I've sold all the property. I have no further obligations,' and I asked him, 'Who owns the roads?' He said, 'Honestly, I don't know,' and my answer to him was the city of Loudon has not accepted them back.' I said, 'They don't belong to the homeowners association, so who does that leave?'"
Scott said homeowners plan to meet with city officials to discuss the problem. "It's our hope that they'll work on our behalf because the homeowners association, we can't afford to deal with it," Scott said.
Loudon City Manager Lynn Mills was out of the state and could not be reached for comment. Homeowners in Sweetwater Creek in Loudon have moved forward after the developer of that neighborhood also went bankrupt.
Judy Phillips, a member of the Sweetwater Creek Home Owners Association board, said members of the community chip in to assist with maintenance costs. She said that while she didn't know any details about the original developer of the subdivision, BB&T bank took over ownership in late 2010.
She said HOA members, which currently number about 30, pay dues each year, which helps pay for maintenance costs for lighting and lawn care within the community.
While she didn't know about any future construction plans the bank has for the subdivision, she hoped more residents would move into the area.
"I wish they would do something, maybe get some (more) people in, that would be nice," Phillips said. "I don't know if they're wanting to sell it. Nobody knows. Nobody is talking."