Owner of mobile home park sought

Numerous violations uncovered at south Augusta's Pine View

A task force of local agencies intends to summon the owner of a south Augusta mobile home park after finding numerous violations during a cursory inspection of the property Thursday.

Licensing and Inspection Director Rob Sherman said Pine View property management has been unresponsive to problems, which have been ongoing since the property changed ownership in 2006.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said the new owners came in with big plans to turn the property around, but all they did was change the name and put up new signs.

Raw sewage running under homes and into retention ponds, broken windows and residences without electricity and running water are just a few of the things the task force discovered.

“I think even the DNR has been out there over this sewage issue,” Sherman said.

Representatives from the sheriff’s office, marshal’s office, Licensing and Inspection, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Child and Family Services discussed issues with tenants but many of the issues were evident without having to enter the homes.

“These people are profiting from renting substandard homes to unfortunate people,” Gay said.

There are currently more than 100 rentals starting at $295 per month. Most are not occupied.

The property is owned by Florence S. Waterman Trust, of Los Angeles, and managed by another California company, M.W. Real Estate Group. A person who answered the phone at M.W. Real Estate referred inquiries about Pine View to Wolf Baschung, who did not respond to a message Thursday.

Sherman said some of the current problems have to do with raw sewage running across the ground. He said the local property managers had the maintenance person working on the problem, resulting in at least eight large holes in the ground about 4 feet deep, but the problem persists.

“I don’t know why they didn’t just call in a contractor to take care of it,” he said. “There just hasn’t been an effort to invest any money in the property and over time it has continued to decline.”

In addition to sanitary issues, crime is another factor.

The sheriff’s office has been dispatched to the property close to 20 times this year and 50 times in 2011.

On one of those occasions recently, investigators condemned a home with an active methamphetamine lab.

On another call April 15, investigators found a dead 5-month-old boy who had been living in deplorable conditions with four of his siblings. Authorities are still waiting on autopsy results to explain the numerous bite marks on his body. However, they suspect the bites are from the roaches that covered the residence.

Immediately after arriving at the property Thursday, the task force discovered another home where children were living in deplorable conditions.

At least four children, younger than 5 years old, were found living in a single-wide trailer covered in feces at the entrance to the park.

Sherman said he expects everyone to get together in coming days, evaluate and quantify all the problems and then demand that the property owner come from California to meet with them to resolve the problems at Pine View.

“We are going to insist that the owner be here for our meeting,” Sherman said.

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