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Families still waiting for National Grid to finish work on new houses after two-month delay

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The waiting game continues.

Three military families were supposed to move into their new houses at Deerfield Subdivision by November, according to purchase agreements they signed during the summer. It’s now mid-January, but those would-be residents of the development off Route 37 in Pamelia are still waiting for their certificate of occupancy.

Three single-family houses have sat empty since the fall, and two more are nearly complete. But for nearly two months, the three families have been living in hotels at the expense of the housing developer, Beacon Asset Managers of Jacksonville, Fla. The developer plans to build 29 single-family houses and 39 duplexes at the 43-acre site.

Though water and electricity service are now available at the three finished houses, utility workers say a problem with the sewer pump station is to blame for the lingering delay. On Monday, National Grid workers said they still have not received a power transformer correctly designed for the pump station — the only missing link. They don’t know how long it will take to resolve the problem, which they said was caused by miscommunication between the utility and the developer.

The town blames National Grid. The company, responsible for electrical and natural gas work at the development, said in the fall that the project would be delayed because workers were being diverted due to Hurricane Sandy. But the hurricane, which swept through New York in late October, still doesn’t provide a credible explanation for why the project has now been delayed more than two months, said Pamelia code enforcement officer, Walter H. VanTassel.

He said the utility has been responsible for project delays in town before, but this is the most glaring example.

“They’ve now dragged a two-week excuse into a two-month excuse,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind that I’ve never seen a delay this bad before.”

National Grid signed a $415,000 agreement with the developer stating would start work Oct. 6 and finish Nov. 15.

On Monday, National Grid completed all of the electrical work at the site needed to energize the houses, and subcontractors hired by the company finished work Jan. 9, spokeswoman Virginia J. Limmiatis said. But housing meters cannot be installed yet, she said, “because they haven’t received authorized electrical certificates that are required by all houses in the state.”

Mr. VanTassel said a licensed inspector will visit the site today to issue electricity certificates needed for the three houses. But while electricity and water will be available, Mr. VanTassel cannot issue certificates of occupancy from the town of Pamelia needed for families to move in until the pump station is energized.

“The power transformer needed at the pump station still needs to be designed,” Mr. VanTassel said. “There’s power running on National Grid’s line right down by the pump station, but the transformer is needed to connect it. That pump station was supposed to be ready for National Grid’s power, but workers are still waiting to see where this transformer is going to come from.”

Mr. VanTassel said the problem with the pump station is just the latest of a series of delays. When National Grid eventually started work in mid-November, he said, it began installing electrical lines on the southern side of the development, instead of starting with the three finished houses on the north side.

“They did what should have been the last phase of the whole project first, by starting work at the south and then going to the north,” Mr. VanTassel said. “The last thing they did was connect the houses that are ready to live in. If they had hooked up power first, in two to four weeks they would have been done. Anyone in their right mind would look at National Grid and say they did it backwards.”

Workers are now completing foundation work for additional three houses at the site. After that work is complete, an additional seven units will be built that have purchase agreements with buyers. In all, 15 buyers have signed purchase agreements, but none has been able to close.

Robert L. Sipple Jr., managing partner of Beacon Asset Managers, didn’t respond Monday to a call seeking comment.

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