YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Ryland Ends Sale of Houses in Ohio

Homeowners in the subdivision have sued the Calabasas builder over hazardous levels of lead found in the soil.

May 06, 2003|Jesus Sanchez | Times Staff Writer

Ryland Group Inc. said Monday that it had stopped selling homes in an Ohio subdivision after about 20 homeowners sued the Calabasas-based home builder over hazardous levels of lead found in the soil.

Home sales were halted late last week at Lexington Manor, a 46-lot development near Cincinnati that was built on the site of a former shooting range. The home buyers contend that tests conducted on the site have detected lead in concentrations far in excess of federal and state safety standards.

Representatives from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, at the request of Ohio officials, are scheduled this week to present a plan to clean up the site, according to Christopher P. Finney, an attorney representing 17 of the families who live in the development of $300,000 homes.

In a lawsuit filed in early March, the homeowners charged that Ryland was aware of the high levels of lead but withheld that information. The suit seeks punitive damages from Ryland, Lexington Manor Inc. -- which sold the land to Ryland -- and other companies.

Ryland, which sold nearly 14,000 homes nationwide last year, was aware that part of the site may have contained lead but relied on an environmental report commissioned by the property owner that said the land was "acceptable for residential development," Ryland attorney Christopher S. Habel said.

Habel said Ryland has pledged to cooperate with state and federal agencies "to make the situation right for its customers," but will not buy back any of the homes or refund deposits. Thirty of the 40 homes on the site have been sold, and two more are under construction, Habel said.

Exposure to high levels of lead has been connected to numerous health problems.

Los Angeles Times Articles