South East Valley residents who’ve been tiptoeing around huge cracks near their homes can take action against real estate agents who sold them the land and didn’t notify them of the hazard, state officials said Thursday.
The Arizona Department of Real Estate has launched an investigation into fissures near Queen Creek and in the San Tan area.
Representatives from that department, along with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey, Maricopa County and its transportation and flood control departments, met with about 30 people who live at Happy Road and 195th Street near Queen Creek.
Cracks in the land opened near their homes after monsoon rains.
Some have trouble getting to their homes because of a 12- to 15-feet wide crack.
"We were amazed that someone would actually develop and build on land well-known for fissures," said Pam DeVries, a resident who organized the meeting.
Maurice Tatlow, a hydrologist with the department of water resources, said the fissures have been known about since at least the 1960s.
People in the area may live on land that’s like a hinge, ready to split open from years of sinking caused by pumping groundwater out of aquifers.
Real estate agents and brokers are required to inform prospective buyers of potential hazards in writing.
But many at Thursday’s meeting said they were never informed.
Cindy Ferrin, deputy director of subdivisions for the Department of Real Estate, said residents can formally complain via the agency’s Web site, www.re.state.az.us. If it can be proved the agent knew or should have known about the hazard, the agent’s license can be revoked and the resident may be eligible for compensation from the real estate recovery fund.
The office of County Supervisor Fulton Brock, RDistrict 1 of Chandler, Tempe and Queen Creek, also is coordinating an open house with agencies and elected officials to discuss the fissures and possible solutions.
It’s scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Southeast Regional Library, 775 N. Greenfield Road, Gilbert.
Call (602) 506-1776 for information.