Action Report: Judge orders 3,000 square foot home to be removed

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Most people who buy a lot to build a house on don't have to wait years to do so. But lot owners in the River Trace development in Hancock County say they have been waiting more than seven years for building permits. One owner said he built his home without waiting and now the house has to be torn down.

Perry and Lori Echols purchased the lot from developer Kevin Haas in 2004 and built their dream home in 2005.

"Mr. Haas showed me where the lot was," Perry Echols said. "Mr. Haas had a driver bring dirt down out here on the site and this is where we built our house."

Since there is no running water or sewer in the subdivision, the Echols use an artisan well.

Echols said in 2007, when the lot next to him sold and the owners had the lot surveyed,  he received shocking news. A surveyor told him most of his home was built on his neighbor's property.

"He told me it was the wrong lot and when they re-surveyed it, they found out that this house was on two lots. Now the judge ordered me to tear my house down."

In 2009, River Trace subdivision developer Kevin Haas sued Echols, demanding the home be moved.

On June 13, 2013 in Hancock County Chancery Court, Judge Carter Bise's ruling sided with Haas. The judge ordered the Echols to remove their house and return the lot to its original condition.

"He just told us to tear it down. That Kevin Haas was not a professional surveyor and we should have not relied on him to show us where the lot was," Echols said.

Lori Echols stated, "If we were to tear this house down and sell the lot to get out of this situation, we still don't have running water. We still don't have sewer."

"Nobody is going to want to buy this from us." she added. "We are stuck in a situation that, it's just a nightmare."

Echols admits he didn't have the lot surveyed before he began construction in 2005.

"It falls within the pins that were showed to me. It's not like I built on another lot. I built within the pins showed to me."

Pat Kleinekordt and her husband fell in love with the Mississippi Gulf Coast and decided to move here. In 2006, the Wisconsin residents met with River Trace Subdivision developer Kevin Haas.

"We purchased a lot from him and it was presented as a subdivision," Kleinekordt said. "We were going to start the process of building and was told that I could not get a building permit because Kevin was non-compliant."

She said that Haas hasn't complied with the rules and regulations to finish the subdivision.

Hancock County attorney Ronnie Artigues said if anyone wants to build in the River Trace subdivision, they won't be able to secure a building permit. He said developer Ronnie Haas has preliminary subdivision approval, but hasn't completed the infrastructure.

Artigues said, "The county will not issue final subdivision approval until all of the infra-structure is constructed to the county ordinance and the county engineer's satisfaction."

I spoke with Kevin Hass, but he did not want to be interviewed on camera. He told me since the lawsuit has been settled, he can now finish the subdivision division. He said he will soon meet with Hancock County officials.

Perry Echols summed up his dilemma by saying, "We're kind of in limbo right now. We've appealed the ruling, just waiting to see what happens."

The judge's ruling said the Echols have 120 days to remove their home. Building officials recommend that anyone wanting to build a home on a lot should always get the lot surveyed by a professional before starting any work.

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