Saturday, June 22, 2002

City drains flooded Erpenbeck sites

Article alerted officials to danger

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

        INDEPENDENCE — A crew from the city of Independence pumped water out of flooded foundations of two Erpenbeck properties on Stallion Court in Taylor Mill hours after a newspaper report exposed the potential hazard. Even so, residents of the upscale Claiborne subdivision say they are worried about safety.

[photo] This flooded foundation on Stallion Court was one of those drained by Independence city workers.
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        Independence City Administrator Mark Wendling said Friday the city would submit an invoice to Peoples Community Bank of West Chester — which holds notes on the two properties — as soon as the city determines the cost.

        The Enquirer reported Wednesday that the two unfinished home sites under foreclosure in the $75 million Erpenbeck Co. scandal were filled with stagnant water. Neighbors said the water had been there since mid-May and that no one was taking action or responsibility to prevent potential accidents. Mr. Wendling's office, which said it first learned of the problem when a reporter called late Tuesday, moved to pump the water out by late afternoon Wednesday.

        “I'm a lot happier,” said John Beighle, who lives on Stallion Court. “I like that there's no water in there. It's still a dangerous place over there.”

        Three holes on the two sites were drained of the green water Thursday. Mr. Wendling said the city and the Independence Fire District did the work.

        The Crestview Hills homebuilding firm and former president A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck are the subjects of FBI investigations into charges that buyers' closing checks were diverted from banks holding mortgages and into Erpenbeck accounts.

        At Claiborne, neighbors worry that the unfinished foundations are too inviting a swimming target for neighborhood children. Mr. Beighle said strands of yellow tape are the only barrier.

        “I would like to see something more than the yellow tape,” Mr. Beighle said. “That's not going to stop anybody.”

Click here for all Enquirer reports on Erpenbeck Co.
If you have any additional information on the business dealings of the Erpenbeck Co. or Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky - or on the involvement of any parties not yet identified in our coverage - please email Enquirer business reporter James McNair at or Kentucky Enquirer reporter Patrick Crowley at
        Mr. Wendling said the city is talking with the WWB Development Group, the Covington firm now developing the property, about ways to keep children off the sites. He said a fence around the sites or a cover over them are the two possibilities.

        Adam Cheney, president of WWB, said he is in the same position as many of the homeowners hurt by the Erpenbeck debacle. Forty-one of his lots in the area are affected, and Erpenbeck companies owe him about $1.5 million, he said.

        Mr. Cheney said that he would be willing to pay the pumping bill.

        Mr. Cheney is developing the subdivision, where houses run about $250,000. The subdivision is not an “Erpenbeck community.” The two lots in question are owned by the Erpenbeck Co., which was contracted by two potential homebuyers to build the still-unfinished homes.

        Another concern is the pile of rotting roof trusses on one site. Mr. Wendling said there is nothing the city can do for now.

        “It is a construction site,” Mr. Wendling said. “The wood trusses are the developer's property; we just can't go in and remove them.”

        Mr. Cheney said that he would like to clean up the area but can't until the bank's foreclosure on the properties is complete.

        Mr. Beighle said he planned to do one thing — pull out the ladder at one of the holes.

        “If I was 7 or 8 years old, that would be inviting,” Mr. Beighle said. “Those holes are still going to fill with water.”


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