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Don't forget about the residents of Edenmoor

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The troubled Edenmoor development in Indian Land has been in the news regularly for the last few months. 

Many of the stories have been long and complicated because the issues surrounding the stalled development are complex, involving the county’s Forfeited Land Commission, developers, financiers, tax and bond sales and pending contracts. And much of what has taken place has been behind closed doors, making it even more difficult to make sense of what’s going on.

The 850-acre development between Jim Wilson Road and S.C. 75, originally planned to include 2,000 homes, an EMS station and a $4.2 million public park. However, it has been in limbo since its developer, Lawson’s Bend LLC, abandoned the project in 2009.

For a couple of years, it seemed as though nothing was happening there, as the development fell into disrepair. The ballfields, park, recreation center and EMS station, although finished, have been vandalized. 

The roads are crumbling so badly that Lancaster County sent out crews earlier this month to fill in the worst holes and barricade unused roads for safety reasons. Much of the property also suffers from erosion, with deep crevasses not far from the few homes there.

But in the last few months, there has been a heated battle between two development companies vying for the bonds and the property. It looked like Eden Ventures was set to buy the property, with a closing date of Aug. 22. However the bonds were bought up in July by another firm, Saybrook Capital, a partner of developer L Star, which had tried to buy the bonds and property earlier this year. Eden Ventures terminated its contract Aug. 9 and the FLC is now negotiating with Saybrook to buy the property with a meeting set for today. 

While it’s good to finally see so much interest in getting the development going again, the battle between the developers has pulled attention away from the plight of those who live  in Edenmoor. 

“People forget there are real people who live there; it’s not just a development on a piece of paper,” Edenmoor resident Nicole Wesselschmidt said. “There are 68 families who live there and we don’t deserve to be jerked around.”

Edenmoor resident Ernie Holmes says the last few years have been rough for him and his neighbors. They have seen the neighborhood’s infrastructure fall apart and the value of their homes plummet, even as their tax bills increase.

“Nobody cares about us,” he said.

Holmes and Tyson Reilly with Eden Ventures both say the county was given money to help keep up the development. In a letter to County Council, Reilly says “several hundred thousand dollars [that] was collected from Bank of America to make repairs to the neighborhood.” If that is so, why hasn’t it been used to that end?

In a recent column, Holmes  asks County Council or the Forfeited Land Commission to take over as the board for the Edenmoor homeowners association.

“That would cost them nothing, and could prevent the payout of a $900 per month fee to our management company, Abbott Enterprises Inc. of Charlotte,” Holmes said.

He said Abbott, with no board supervision in the last two years, has depleted the HOA’s reserve funds, while running up a $28,273 debt  to the Millbridge community in North Carolina, which provided amenities to Edenmoor residents.

This seems like it would be a simple step to take to support the residents of this beleaguered development. But perhaps it’s not so simple. Nothing seems to be simple when it comes to Edenmoor.

 As the Edenmoor saga continues to play out, we encourage County Council and the FLC to keep the needs of Edenmoor’s residents in mind and to do what it can, in the short term, to make life there more bearable for them.