Local News


UPDATE: Construction blasts continue despite lawsuit

Posted at 10:09 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 20:42:16-04
UPDATE: Homeowners received a notice that more blasting will continue from 10 a.m. to noon on August 31.
Residents are concerned that construction activity will continue to damage their homes. They've contacted the company, who said that the blasts are within county standards.
Contractors, VCE Inc., sent a letter to homeowners in nearby neighborhoods, giving them a heads up, that WESCO Drilling and Blasting would be conducting blasts in the area.  

However, the letter specifically says "structures and utilities are safe", and the vibration levels from the blasts aren't strong enough to cause any damage.  
VCE Inc. is monitoring the strength of the blasts, to make sure construction efforts follow state and local guidelines and laws.  
Homeowners disagree, saying their homes have been anything but safe.  
"It's terrible, this is our home, this is our biggest investment," says Nathan Roodell, who says his home has been damaged by the blasts.  "These guys are blowing it to pieces." 
Those that call Southern Highlands home say blasting for a new housing development is becoming more than a nuisance.
"They are enough that one of my kids actually goes running out the back door," Diana Battista said.
The mother of three says it isn't just her kids that are feeling the effects of the blasting that started in June. She says her home is cracking under the pressure.
“Every single foot there is a new crack," Battista said while walking around her home.
Battista isn't alone.
Dozens of her neighbors say they have noticed similar problems since construction crews began blasting to make way for a new housing development near Jones Boulevard and Erie Avenue. 
"I have a closet door I can barely open now," Alyce Phillips said.
One neighbor showed 13 Action News cracked granite countertops and a cracked ceiling in his home.
Another said the last blast left several large cracks in the back wall of his home.
Everyone we spoke with said the explosions are so jarring; their first reaction is to take cover.
"I thought it was an earthquake. I was about to get under my desk," Phillips said.
The neighbors are fed up and have filed suit against Richmond American Homes and its partners saying they are responsible for the damage.
"We have 50 to 100 homes who have been injured that have been reporting the same injuries within the past three to four weeks when the blasting has been going on," attorney Matthew Callister said.
With another blast scheduled for Wednesday, Battista and her neighbors are left to wonder if more damage is on the way.
“If that travertine is cracked what is underneath that is cracked," Battista said.
The neighbors have been meeting regularly and gathering more support from those interested in joining the lawsuit filed Aug. 12.
A representative of Richmond American Homes said the company has no comment on the lawsuit.