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SUNSET BEACH—It’s a beautiful home in what Debbie and Larry Sweeney deem to be an ideal area.
Since the former New Jersey residents retired here a year ago to their freshly built home, they’ve been enjoying all the amenities their community, Jaguar’s Lair, has to offer.
Larry regularly plays golf at the “Big Cats” courses in nearby Ocean Ridge. Both enjoy going to the beach and using the amenities offered there as well.
All they need now are neighbors.
So far, the Sweeneys are the only residents of the only house to be built in Jaguar’s Lair, one of developer Mark Saunders’ communities yet to be completed in the wake of the recession.
While dozens of other Jaguar’s Lair property owners have hired an attorney and fought for Saunders to finish what he started, the Sweeneys said they had no problems when they started building their home just off the beaten path of Old Georgetown Road.
“We’ve had no problems with Coastal Construction at all,” Larry Sweeney said, referring to one of Saunders’ development companies that are also often referred to as Coastal Companies or Coastal Communities.
The Sweeneys started searching along the southeastern coast, from Florida on up, ultimately deciding this was their ideal retirement spot.
They bought their new home-site—three-fifths of an acre—from Coastal Communities in 2008. Construction on their home started in 2009, with the closing in 2010.
“We chose here because you can build a custom home,” Larry Sweeney said, adding they have access to all Ocean Ridge amenities. Larry’s sister and her husband also live nearby.
The Sweeneys’ three-bedroom brick house, visible behind the brick Jaguar’s Lair gateway sign off Old Georgetown Road, has the partially finished road it needs at the corner of Mayfair and Haddington ways.
They said they also have all their utilities—“water, electricity, phone, cable and sewer.”
“I’ve never met Mark Saunders that I can remember,” Larry Sweeney said. “He was good to his word.”
“We just never suspected there would be no one else here,” Debbie Sweeney said.
In the midst of Saunders’ current legal and financial woes with his array of unfinished, upscale communities in Brunswick County, the Sweeneys note there are no longer bank-owned properties in Jaguar’s Lair.
There are still dilemmas, however, they said. Property owners may be encountering difficulties with banks that won’t finance construction until all of the community’s infrastructure is in—something the town of Sunset Beach has been trying to address since last year through a tolling agreement town council approved with Saunders.
A new agreement was adopted in December.
Though Jaguar’s Lair was never annexed into the town, Sunset Beach is involved because the community is in its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
Saunders’ attorney, Elaine Jordan, said the Sweeneys and their home are a “complement to all of Ocean Ridge.”
“The Sweeneys understand the realities of the real estate marketplace, and they remain admirably supportive of the Ocean Ridge development company,” said.
As for the Sweeneys’ lack of neighbors, Jordan said to date 114 building permits could be issued upon request.
“Many people have had to, understandably, adjust their plans as a result of the great recession,” Jordan wrote.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.