Grove flooding problem ‘properly addressed,’ spokesman says

Posted Feb. 22, 2013, at 6:56 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 22, 2013, at 7:29 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — A spokesman for the parent company of an Orono apartment complex that has been plagued by problems since it opened last fall said Friday the company has resolved the snow problem that caused several townhouses to flood on Wednesday.

One tenant, however, said the floor and carpet in her apartment remained wet despite management’s efforts to address the problem.

Melting snow on Tuesday caused water to pool behind seven townhouses, according to Jason Chudoba, a spokesman for North Carolina-based Campus Crest Communities Inc. When temperatures dropped Tuesday night, an ice dam formed, preventing the water from dissipating, he said.

On Friday, Chudoba reported that the problem had been rectified.

“The issues related to seven townhouses have been properly addressed,” he said in an email Friday afternoon. “We plan to remove the dehumidifiers from the affected units later today.”

Chudoba did not respond to questions about whether the company has — or will — reimburse renters whose personal property was damaged by the deluge.

The flooding problem was reported to the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday by a female renter who asked that her name be withheld.

The woman, who attends the University of Maine, said Wednesday that most of her belongings were destroyed by flooding in her unit.

“Our carpet is soaked, all of our food in our pantry is soaked,” the student said in a Facebook message. She said most of the belongings she and her roommates had in the ground-floor apartment were “absolutely destroyed.”

On Friday afternoon, the student disputed Chudoba’s assertions that the flood problems had been resolved. She said that she and her roommates were still waiting to hear from The Grove’s management.

“The television wasn’t actually damaged, thankfully,” she said. “But neither me or any of my three roommates have been contacted by management regarding the matter. I’ve called several times trying to speak with the manager and set up a meeting and have received no response.”

The renter is among a growing number of tenants who are trying to get out of their leases or are otherwise considering legal action against The Grove or its parent company, according to Sean O’Mara, a Student Government-funded lawyer who provides legal services to UMaine undergraduate students.

“I’m especially concerned because I already re-signed a lease for next year before all these shenanigans started happening and I want out of my lease,” she said. “But since they won’t call me back, I can’t begin the process of trying to get out of my lease OR find a new place to live.

“There are currently 4 dehumidifiers and fans in our apartment, running off our electricity and the carpet and floor continues to get more and more wet,” she said. “Honestly I’m at a loss — I don’t know what to do. I just want out of my lease… and I refuse to pay 500 dollars or find someone to take over my lease, which is standard protocol.”

The student said Friday that she has met with a legal consultant on campus but does not think she has a strong enough case to pursue legal action.

“I just want out of next year’s lease, without having to pay or find someone to take my place,” she said. “I plan on pestering them enough that hopefully they’ll get sick of me and just let me out.”

The Grove, a complex with a 620-tenant capacity that houses mainly college students, has had problems with heating, electricity and mold since it opened. The $25.3 million complex features 12 apartment buildings and eight townhouses. The Orono complex is among about 40 properties that Campus Crest owns nationwide.

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