of The Villages-News
By Larry B. Croom
Published March 15, 2020
More than two years after sinkholes ravaged the Village of
Calumet Grove and left residents frazzled and exasperated, the contractor making
repairs to two damaged homes is facing a hard deadline of April 20 to have the
first phase of work completed.
According to Mike Savage, Marion County’s building and safety
director, that includes stabilizing the two houses, located at 17092 and 17086
McLawren Terrace, through various procedures including grout injections and
underpinnings on the concrete slabs. Savage said the injection grouting worked
very well and both of the homes have been raised back up to acceptable levels.
Savage said the owner of the properties, Hayden Wrobel of I Buy Sick Homes, and
his contractor have had ground penetrating radar performed on the lots and under
the two structures. He said the report – which he requested several times and
had to involve a county attorney before receiving it – didn’t show any new
“ground disturbances” on the properties, just ones mostly along a
since-abandoned stormwater pipe that ran between the homes where grout
injections already had taken place.
“But it’s only a snapshot,” Savage warned. “If it’s hitting a lot of vegetative
matter, if it’s hitting a lot of things that restrict that signal from getting
down into the ground, it won’t see below it. That’s the unfortunate thing.”
The contractor repairing two sinkhole-damaged homes in
the Village of Calumet Grove is facing an April 20 deadline to have
phase one of the repairs completed.
Savage added that’s he’s hoping to meet with the contractor’s
engineer at the site of the two homes on Friday and get him to sign off on the
ground penetrating radar reports. Once that happens, he said, the contractor can
move to phase two, which would involve a standard construction permit giving him
180 days to make repairs inside the homes and get his first inspection on the
Savage said those repairs in the house at 17086 McLawren
Terrace mostly have been completed and he doesn’t think a phase two permit will
be needed. But it’s a much different story at the other home, he said.
“We’ve got busted slabs,” he said. “We’ve got the bay window on the righthand
side of the property, that when they injection grouted, it actually bumped out
the bottom of that bay window. All of that will require remediation.”
Savage vowed to hold the contractor to the deadline and said he would make that
quite clear on Friday.
“Nobody wants this cleaned up faster than I do, I guarantee you that,” he said.
“And that’s why it’s a hard date of April 20.”
District 3 Commissioner Jeff Gold, who represents The Villages portion of Marion
County, said he also wants to see the project completed as quickly as possible.
“I want this over with,” he said. “I know the residents there are very upset. I
agree with them because it is an eyesore in that area.”
Commission Chairman Kathy Bryant agreed.
“I think enough time has passed,” she said. “Their work should be done by now.”
Don Deakin, who serves as a Community Development District 4 supervisor and
represents the sinkhole-ravaged neighborhood, told commissioners that several
residents have reported seeing new openings in the ground on the properties. He
said they were concerned for safety reasons and wanted to know what could be
done about the issue.
But he was told that Marion County only has jurisdiction over the structures,
not the property where they are located. Bryant also said he should caution
residents again going onto the private properties, as they could be charged with
The sinkholes along McLawren Terrace first opened up in the wee hours of the
morning on Feb. 15, 2018. Those who lived in the neighborhood reported hearing a
loud bang shortly after 3 a.m. and soon started calling 911 for help. Within
minutes, emergency crews arrived on scene to find the devastation the highly
dangerous sinkholes had created.
One of the homeowners, Doris Morrill, had to be rescued from her residence. The
residents of the other damaged home, Frank and Jan Neumann, were able to escape
unscathed, though one sinkhole at least 35 feet deep opened up just outside
their lanai door.
In May, two other sinkholes opened up in the yards and another one re-opened
underneath the lake on the golf course behind the homes.
In July, Morrill’s home, which was owned by a trust set up by her late husband,
was deemed by engineering firms to be unstable and dangerous at best. Frazzled
Calumet Grove residents expressed frustrations over their property values. And
Frank Neumann, who had been instructed by his attorney to avoid talking about
specifics regarding his damaged house, said the entire situation had been very
“disruptive” for him and his wife.
Insurance settlements on both homes eventually were reached and the homes were
sold, with Wrobel ending up with the properties. The damaged stormwater pipe was
rerouted into a different section of the neighborhood. And Calumet Grove
residents have remained active in their demands to see their neighborhood return
to a sense of normalcy.