Pender Court Residents Fed-Up with Construction Dirt

Residents of a Berryville neighborhood say that they have had it with more than a year of dirt and dust generated from construction activity from the site of the new Clarke County High School and are demanding that school officials authorize funds to clean the outside of homes affected by the grime. But at last night’s Clarke County School Board meeting School Board members offered little willingness for addressing the problem.

In a May 21st letter sent to Joint Administrative Services director Tom Judge and also to the Clarke County School Board, ten families with homes on nearby Pender Court in Battlefield Estates demanded that the school division pay to have their homes professionally power-washed in order to remove dirt and stains that they say has been caused by construction dirt.

Pender Court residents are asking Clarke County Public Schools to address dust and dirt problems that they say were created during site work for new high school – Photo Edward Leonard

“Since the first day that construction equipment rolled on the property of the new high school, the residents of Pender Court have endured the pounding, puttering, scraping of machinery and waves of dirt flying in the air. For the past 18 months, each one of us has been unable to enjoy our screened porches and exterior patios, due to the caked dirt. Although our homes are less than 6 years old, they have a red glazed appearance of being much older and unhealthy” the letter states.

The letter also describes the disbelief that the residents felt after the construction work finally finished but then recommenced in early June:

“We were thankful when we saw that the pounding ceased and grass seed was being planted in February, but still unhappy about the appearance of the exterior of our homes. Several of us cleaned the red cake off our screened porches floors and furniture, some even bought new furniture, thinking construction was over and we could finally enjoy the spring months. Then earlier this month, the dirt started flying again and the pounding returned! Why? We have not a clue, but needless to say very disturbed THAT WE HAVE TO CLEAN AGAIN OR THAT OUR NEW OUTSIDE FURNITURE IS SOILED!”

Last night School Board member Jim Brinkmeier (Berryville) said that he had visited two of the affected homes and felt that the complaints about deeply soiled siding and porch furniture had merit and asked his fellow members to at least investigate to what he termed as a “reasonable request” by the residents.

Brinkmeier also asked that the Board look into the matter prior to providing Shockey Construction, the general contractor for the school site, with a final acceptance letter for the overall construction project.

“My concern is that we are getting ready to sign a letter saying that Shockey has ‘no responsibility’ but we don’t have all of the facts,” Brinkmeier said. “Let’s at least get Shockey to produce documentation of what they did do. As long as they followed the contract Shockey may not have done anything wrong. But I think that we need to ask Shockey to revisit this.”

But others on the Board appeared firmly against getting involved in what one member described as a “contract issue between Shockey Construction and the residents.”

“Building on this site meant that there would be management problems between the school division and the neighborhood,” said School Board member Chip Schutte (White Post). “Building on this site meant that the neighbors were going to be affected. There’s nothing in the contract that addresses this other than an inspection and there’s nothing in the budget that allows for this. But if you clean one home, then you have to clean them all.”

“My concern is that we know what the limitation of our responsibility is” said School Board Chairman Janet Alger (Russell). “I looked at that area on Google maps. A lot of dirt was moved in that area in 2007. It was surprising how much dirt was moved near those homes at that time. I also have a concern that VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) is just getting started on the round-about work and there’s going to be a whole lot more dirt soon.”

“You can’t build a 160,000 sq. ft. building 300 feet from homes and not expect them to get dirty,” Schutte said.

Whether or not the Pender Court residents expected their homes to get dirty may be an open issue, however, there is no doubt that the residents expect their homes to be returned to the cleaner pre-construction state.

“We, the residents of Pender Court and Clarke County tax payers listed and signed below, are insistent that Clarke County Public Schools make paid arrangements to have those homes listed below professionally power-washed as soon as possible. We desire to have our homes to have the same appearance as before the construction began.”

Brinkmeier said that he guessed the cost of power-washing each home might be $250. No cost estimate was mentioned regarding cleaning of soiled furniture.

“Shockey says that they have no further responsibility in the issue,” Brinkmeier said. “I think that we need to encourage Shockey to take another look at it and provide whatever documentation that they have that the homeowners were treated fairly.”

Despite Brinkmeier’s plea on behalf of the Pender Court residents, his motion to investigate the matter further died after after the lack of a second by another Board member. School Board member Barbara Lee (Millwood) asked that the matter be tabled without action until the Board next regular session in July.

School Board member Dr. Elizabeth Leffel (Buckmarsh) was absent last night.


View the letter from Pender Court residents to the Clarke County School Board here: Pender Court Letter 053112





  1. Gail Mikolajczak says:

    I can understand where the Pender Court residents are coming from. We’ve experienced the dust accumulation here as well on Jackson Drive. There is a lot more dust to come from the traffic circle installation this summer. Dust is the least of our worries, however! Blasting has caused significant damage to our home. I still have yet to address this properly! I know that others have this issue as well.

    • C.C. Voter & School Supporter says:

      It made sense to build the new high school at that location. Dust is a normal part in the construction process. Blasting and Vibrations surely are as well. Damages brought on by the construction of the new school should be addressed. Normal procedures of notification were not followed to warn residents to have inspections before blasting was done. The “Last Blast” was very strong- shook the house like an earthquake. Most folks were at work during “normal business hours”. It took place during a holiday “Veteran’s Day” 2010. County offices were all closed that day. No surprise!

  2. Lonnie Bishop says:

    It’s a construction site, dirt gets moved. I saw the water trucks out there a lot over the past 18 months; however, last summer was a right dry spell, and Pender Court is downwind for the prevailing winds that blow across that patch.

    Is it unfortunate? Sure it is. But, the builder did try to mitigate the dust. They apparently had some guys out there diggin up rocks a couple of weeks ago, and thus they had to go back over the place; now you have VDoT and its contractor building that roundabout.

    Expecting the schools to pay to clean every house on Pender Court is silly, imho. My dog barks and my wife’s china rattles in the cabinet every time a freight train rumbles past…do I bill Norfolk Southern or CSX for a chipped teacup? No, because I know those fellas try to minimize the noise and such, but a couple hundred tons of steel moving at speed is goin to rumble and make noise. Likewise, the process of building a sorely-needed high school on land close enough to town utilities to make it viable, and thus a benefit for the entire county in the long term, does mean a short-term inconvenience for those living right next to it.

    Maybe those good folks should have waited for ALL construction to be over BEFORE they washed off their houses, chairs, decks, screens, etc., the first time. As my grandson’s buddies like to say, “Just sayin’.”

    • Cracked basement on Pender says:

      You chose to live where you do, I think the RR was there when you purchased your home. This is new construction. I personally don’t want your cash, but others might not have what I have.
      Good day neighbor

  3. Blossom Butt says:

    What about nearby residents who had to put up with the dust when your homes were built? And those on Jackson? I had my windows open yesterday, and the pollen is all over my furniture and clothes. I am going to sue Mother Nature for not keeping her stuff in check.

    • Interesting Thought says:

      I find it interesting that just because this is a county project people think they can ask for things they wouldn’t if it was a regular builder job. I agree Blossom Butt. We had the same issue when the development went in on S. Church Street. Dust, blasting, it was a real mess for a very long time but now the “dust has settled” and life goes on.

    • And what about the residents and businesses that have to put up with whatever Enders is doing in the back, making a parking lot??? Noise, dust, dirt, and more.

      Sue them too.

  4. Nuisance Law says:

    Nuisance law covers dust, noise, and vibration.

  5. Disgruntled Voter says:

    Brinkmeier appears to be attempting to be the big man on campus; a real public servant who listens to the people. People like that need to understand the limitations of government and not always be seeking more funds, more funds.

  6. Since construction began, I have wondered why did they have to strip that whole entire area of every tree and bit of brush that used to grow there? If they would have left the trees and brush on the perimeter alone, they would have been the perfect natural barrier for construction dust. If that had been houses there as was originally planned, the builder would have done the same thing. But I don’t see why it would be necessary. Lack of forethought I guess.

  7. More nonsense says:

    Is this a joke? The kids dont have textbooks but theyre demanding the school pay for it. ME FIRST!!

    I’d be to embarrassed to put my name on that petition. Try thinking beyond your own front doors!

    Common sense would have been to cover the furniture up with something.

    LOL @ Blossom!

  8. Not Dusty says:

    While my home is not in town and nowhere near this construction site I do see the home owner point. I bet if someone built a home next to a government building and the resulting dust got on the town or counties building it would be the responsibility of the home owner or contractor to power wash the dirt off the building owned by the town or county. Or at least the town or county would expect or demand it be cleaned. Fair is fair and I think these people should have the exterior of their houses cleaned… If blasting caused foundation damage or flying debris damaged the homes would the contractor not be liable? Is there a limitation on the size of flying debris?

    • Blossom Butt says:

      How about getting off the computer and getting out a garden hose and spraying the dust off. it is after all, DUST, not mud, so it just needs washed off with water…..but that would required YOU to do something, instead of sit back and complain. As far as furniture, I find it extremely hard to believe that dust in the air, that is not blowing or not being stirred up right next to your home, is getting inside and on furniture, unless your windows are open. That would take a strong wind, blowing all the time, straight at your home, while the dust was in the air. If you do have tons of dust from the construction, then I think your first lawsuit should be the builder of your drafty home.

  9. hhmmm.. says:

    We finally got a new school that everybody wanted, and now people are mad because their house got dusty? Not to belittle or make fun of(yet anyway) but I just can’t fathom that it’s that bad that they can’t wash it off themselves. Can we have an article with pics, possibly? Maybe then I could be sympathetic. So far with just the article I’m not feelin it.

  10. Cracked basement on Pender says:

    I learned all I needed about the school board and the building of the HS when I complained to the state fire marshall’s office about the cracks in my crackless basement floor that showed up during blasting. Shockey sent in engineers etc and surprise, found that the blasting had no effect on my, or the other EIGHTEEN people who complained about cracks. EIGHTEEN people, please.
    We should have filmed them 24 x 7 while they were doing the construction, and I have powerwashed my home TWICE, They do what they want to. They are educators, they know better.

    • Mr Mister says:

      The concrete floor in your basement is to keep you from walking in the dirt. It has no structural purpose. Everybody has cracks in their basement floor. I bet some were there before the blasting.

  11. Justsayn says:

    I live on Jackson, when the socialites from Fairfax Co and Loudoun moved into our neighboorhood there were no problems. Get over it! so what a lil dirt doesn’t hurt anything how do you people think that our tax dollars should be allocated. nevermind common sense has been lost, get out and power wash your houses and furniture yourselves. Have you ever completed manual labor before or is that beneath the socialites?….Again, nevermind, answering the question, the lack of judgement speaks for itself.

    • Sharon Strickland says:

      Your note is mean spirited. My neighbors on Pender are hard working people and one has survived 8 fires as a firefighter. They did not build their homes to have this trouble. They chose a quiet court to live on and enjoy our Berryville. Each day, I watch many of these neighbors drive great distances to their jobs. They are no socialites living on Pender. Get to know them. They are teachers, firemen, government workers, caterers, retirees, senior citizens living closer to their grandchildren.

      You live in our neighborhood “Justsayn” and you KNOW how much dirt has been flying. These honest people have a good complaint and after attending meetings with Shockey and members of the county government, I know that they will not get help.

      They do not deserve what happened to their homes. One neighbor on Pender is living with cancer and she has a hard time getting outside to sit on her screened in porch because of the dirt. She did not build her home with this expectation. Quit being so mean about what happened to really nice hard working people. Some are nurses and they volunteer all over this county when help is needed. You need a good wake-up call about your opinions. They have been washing their homes and hand cleaning their outdoor furniture but as soon as they get most of the DIRT off along comes more stirred up dust. And, as far as the water truck –forget that. As President of the civic association, I called Shockey and documented my calls with follow-up notes. I kept being told the trucks were out of commission. No help there. Be nice when you talk about these people too. They are YOUR neighbors! Did you collect for the poor last year or donate food. They ALL did. One of these neighbors chaired both the Thanksgiving and the Christmas projects to help Clarke County families in need of help. Well, she needs help too. Quit hiding behind “Justsayn” and use your name. We are not afraid to use ours.

      • Just sayn says:

        I moved to this subdivision for a tranquil and peaceful atomsphere. I did not move into this neighborhood to listen to a bunch of belly achers who will complain about the least lil thing such as dust. Mother Nature puts out pollen, maybe you should take up a complaint with her as well, doubt you will get an reasonable response from her either. Mean, not really, because you don’t me as an indvidual, nor do I want to get to know you and Pender Court. We all have our own problems and do not complain and put the complaints out there for everyone to read.

        No, I really don’t know how much dirt has been flying, because, I don’t pay attention to the small things in life which causes stress and which I can powerwash myself.

        I do not put compliants out there for everyone to express their opinion of the compliant. Opinion’s are based on those compliants

        Also, I work shocker, right, and can perform manual labor, such as; powerwashing, canning, cleaning my own home, turning a screwdriver, digging ditches, cutting grass in my own yard, changing the oil in my car, etc. If there is something I cannot perform that requires manual labor. I research the idea/problem and receive several different quotes from contractros or individuals that can perform that job and at the lowest resonable price and pay for it out of my own pocket not the community. Oh, and I do travel over the mountain to work everyday, sorry, although, I do not lack common sense. Common sense is what I was raised on.

        Some have not a clue, if one has donated their time and/or assisted with DSS with meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is called no ones business for a reason. We are all members of this County and Town last time I checked and do not require the Civic Association permission to donate.

        This is from heart and not mean spirited so please do not misinterpte. I do want thank the Civic Association for time and services donated within the community, it is appreciated I do know that many are struggling in these harsh ecomonic times and they really do need the support from their community. This is a sincere, thank you for lending a hand, when there is so many in need and suffering.

        Hiding what hiding, that would be peek a boo. Just sayn

      • So what? It’s construction, and dirt is always an issue. The company attempted to keep dust down, machines do break down, and the folks on Pender should have waited until all construction was done. Bellyaching about the dust is just a waste of time, pixels, and heartburn pills.

        Cracks in the basements…that is an entirely different matter. But don’t deflect off of the ridiculous petition by bringing up humanitarian things they do, for those things – while each one a noble act – have nothing to do with their whiney issue about dust.

  12. Realistic Joe says:

    We had to have a new school because of these types of developed areas (Echolsville).

    Living on a dirt road, my neighbors dust my house and vehicles as they pass but I don’t demand they come and wash down same.

    Excavation is part of the process. It happened when your house was being built.

    It’s just part of living where you are. It’s temporary.

    Wash away the dust and be a good neighbor.

  13. Cracked basement on Pender says:

    “Socialites from Fairfax” Please
    Excavation is part of the process. It happened when your house was being built. Uh, not quite. They dont blast for new properties
    How about I come over and toss a truck load of dust on your house. You can spend one of your off days cleaning it up.
    And for the record, we are citizens and taxpayers. I dont want your money to clean my house. But I dont want your lip back either.

  14. Another View says:

    No, no, no. Let’s sue. Let’s sue the Construction Company, the individual employees, the School System, the Board of Supervisors, and Clarke County generally. Heck, let’s sue the voters who put these people into office. Because every problem in life can be addressed by the law. Right?

    • Thanks a lot says:

      Well, you are ok then with putting cracks in your basement floor. I had none. Now I need to do something to the floor before I finsh off the downstairs. Otehr people who have finished basements are going to find out the hard way after we get some rain.

  15. Walnuter says:

    It’s a fact that my backyard on Walnut Street flooded a few times while your development was being built, no one ever came to help me clean up the mess. Get over it, you moved here, you want things, you pay a bit of the price.

  16. Walnuter says:

    If they had kept some of the trees, as Why has stated above there wouldn’t have been as much of a need for the ugly retention pond. Why in the world is it necessary to cut down every last tree on a property that is being developed? That’s what they do in Loudoun, let’s not do it here!

    • Thank you, Walnuter for adding to my point. It seems others don’t feel the same way looking at the rating on my post but, it would be a lot more pleasing to the eye if they retained some of the mature foiliage over there AND it would have served a purpose.

      • “Retained some of the mature foliage” – you mean the weed trees and such that were in the overgrown and dirmant apple orchard? Sorry…dirt had to be moved to configure the site for the building, move that water line for the Town, build the drainage pond, and extend Mosby Blvd. because the town said so. Give the trees they’ve planted time to grow and mature and THEN pass judgment.

        • As there are questions concerning the trees, I would like to clarify that the school board when negotiating with VDOT for Mosby, obtained VDOT’s agreement to do two things:

          a) Line both sides of the “new” Mosby with trees and

          b) Place a grouping of trees in the area where the original “old” trees were, and which will serve as a screen.

          I do not know if VDOT plans on planting the trees after the initial phase to be done this fall (round-about and road that goes to the back entrance of the school), or wait until they complete Mosby to connect to the existing Mosby, next spring.

          However the trees will be planted, and should provide a much nicer view within the next couple of years.


  17. Confused says:

    As one of the first courts built in Battlefield Estates (“Echolsville”) we endured blasting during construction of the court behind us. Loads of dust continued for years from construction. We even endure dust during the Clarke County Fair – every year. Seriously, let’s be reasonable . . . stop complaining about every little thing and start doing things for yourselves. What kind of role models are you people to our younger generations? You know the very children all of you complain about not having any common sense. Gee, I wonder where they get that from?

    • Dmaxnjackson says:

      That is just it. They are showing young people, that if you belly ache enough, people will do things for you. I try to wash my house at least once a year, maybe I will call the town and complain about the cost of the water for washing off the dirt they put there 🙂

    • Life is too short says:

      YOU GO Confused, and I can only pressume (remember never assume, because if one does, it makes an *** out of you and me), is one of the orginial owners in the subdivision (“Echolsville”), We moved here 13 years ago and life rolls on. Life is too short to complain about dust and if my calcuations are correct “Confused” lived with all the other streets including Jackson while they were being constructed and the new HS, all others (Pender) can only follow by confused’s example. Thanks confused, much appreciated.

      Oh wait I am agreeing with Confused, would that make me “mean spirited”…. just sayn

  18. Wow, i am glad we werent talking about Obamacare or the deficit, The sheriff would have had to intervene

  19. Just Sayin, you really have an attitude. The school and it’s contractor are acting totally irresponsibly. there were 18 homes that suddenly had cracked basements and the state fire marshall somehow thinks that the blasting had nothing to do with it? That’s pretty odd in my book,

    Please don’t tell me how I or anyone else should feel about the state of their property. I can power wash my house, maybe someone cant afford or actually do the work themselves or they are elderly or sick.

    And should someone crack your basement or soil your home, I will be the first one to tell you to suck it up.