IRMO, S.C. — Nicholas Cole lives in the Carriage Lane community in the Irmo area. He tells News 19 that he's been trying for months to get a new bus stop for his kids.
"It's been four plus months and there's been no movement on the bus stop and the kids are still walking in the dark, in the cold, in the rain a quarter mile by themselves and we're just trying to make it safe," Cole said.
His children are 5, 6, 8 and 11-years-old. Cole explains within the last month his kids have been approached by strangers twice.
"There's 16 sex offenders within one mile of my address and here we are having the kids walk a quarter mile by themselves when there is a solution, a quick easy simple solution," Cole said.
Transportation officials with Lexington-Richland Five tell News 19 they can't do anything until Cole's homeowner's association signs a waiver.
"This was late August, early September. He was told it would be brought up in the October meeting. It wasn't brought up in the October meeting. I went to the November meeting. All the board members were completely unaware and had no idea that this was even being discussed. At that point, I brought it up in that meeting and I was told by one of the vice president board members that he would contact Mr. Williams personally, get the ball rolling," Cole said.
Mr. Williams is a transportation employee with the district, and according to Cole, the ball hasn't been rolling.
News 19 reached out to this HOA four separate times with no luck.
Lexington-Richland Five sent News 19 a statement saying, "School District Five will be able to relocate the bus stop in question once all of the required approvals from the property owner are in place."
"They're just stalling. They should know by now I'm not going anywhere," Cole said.
Kathleen McDaniel is an attorney who specializes in homeowners' rights.
"When you move into a neighborhood that is encompassed by restrictive covenants in an HOA, you tend to give up a significant amount of what you want to do with your property, because it is often tightly controlled by the HOA and the board itself through the restrictive covenants, but that doesn't mean that you give up all of your ability to do what you want with your property," McDaniel said.
In the meantime, McDaniel suggests recruiting more neighbors to join this effort in support, and that Cole request a special meeting with the HOA. If the HOA doesn't agree to a special meeting, Cole can get 5% of homeowners in the complex to sign a petition for one. If the HOA board still doesn't call a special meeting, Cole can set the time, location and agenda for this meeting.
McDaniel tells News 19 that homeowners can access the HOA bylaws and covenants through the HOA office, HOA website or the Richland County Register of Deeds.
She explains homeowners also have the right to access HOA financial records, meeting minutes and board members' names and at least one form of contact (i.e. an address, email or phone number). If the HOA refuses to provide any of this information, that is breaking the law.
McDaniel tells News 19 that often times, a compromise can be reached. But if the HOA decides against the bus stop, Cole can start an appeals process.