Frustrated KB Home condo owners seek help from Manatee County

BRADENTON, Fla. - Saving thousands of words with pictures of what they call 'shoddy, waterlogged workmanship' on their practically-new KB Home-built condos, Willowbrook residents once again brought their tale of woe to the Manatee County Commission.

It's the same board that told them last month they would look into the sub-standard housing situation and help.

"The building department said they would investigate," said resident Nicholas Sommers.  "Have they?"

"It just seems like it keeps 'blame shifting,' and we're not getting any answers at all," said condo owner Dan Koehler.  "It's been three months."

"I feel like there's a lack of action being done," said Willowbrook resident Armando, Oyola-Delgado.  "And I come again in front of you guys.  You guys have the power and the authority to do something."

Indeed, commissioners commiserated with their constituents, especially after recent inspections showed 75% of the units with possible code violations were, in fact, unsafe.  And repairs promised by KB were, at best, in progress.

"We need to know why," said Commissioner John Chappie.  "What's going on?  We don't know.  All I know is that these people need some help."

"And I really would like to hear from our County Attorney," said Commissioner Donna Hayes (whose District 3 covers the Willowbrook neighborhood), "to see what we could do next."

The answer was not one residents wanted to hear.

"I will repeat something I have said before," said County Attorney Mickey Palmer.  "That this is, by and large, a private dispute that this board should not inject itself into."

Still, there are questions about previous inspections, and how the houses could have passed before.

"Where we depend on their inspections to say, 'yes, this home is safe,' what happened?" asked Dan Koehler.

"We're stuck," bottom-lined Nick Sommers.  "That's the reality of it."

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