My Toll Experience

Property and Grading

1.  I paid a $20,000 premium for a 3.26 acre lot on a cul-de-sac, despite the fact that Toll could get only one percolation test on the lot, and therefore could not build more than one house on it.  At the time I paid the premium, there was topsoil covering the entire lot.  (There still IS, along the northern border of the property that was never disturbed by excavation.)

In front of four witnesses, one of them a sprinkler installer who was working on an adjacent lot, the topsoil was removed from my property under the supervision of J. Michael Donnelly, Toll’s Project Manager, loaded onto a dump truck, and carted away from the entire sub-division.  (A neighbor who happened to be following the truck has advised me that it was carted over to the model home at another Toll Brothers’ subdivision here in Montgomery Township.)  In the process, the installer called over to advise Mr. Donnelly that it is illegal in Montgomery Township to remove topsoil from a building site.  Mr. Donnelly responded by telling the installer to perform a feat of a sexual nature that is anatomically impossible.

Of course, Toll Brothers attorneys insist that no such thing ever happened.  So desperate is Toll to avoid owning up to their actions and assuming responsibility for replacing the topsoil that one of their attorneys actually suggested that the topsoil had all been washed away in a storm!  (See Transcript from November 29, Parts 1 and 2.)

Obviously, this attorney was not a physics major and is not familiar with a force called “gravity.”  Because the land is graded – erroneously – so that it slopes westward toward the house rather than south toward the storm sewer along the southern border of the property, a storm would have washed the topsoil toward the house, and it would still be on the property.  Instead, as the Rutgers Report shows, there is a complete lack of topsoil on the entire property, with the exception of that strip of land where the soil was not disturbed.  Unless gravity has changed a lot since I was in school, it would have been impossible for a storm of almost any magnitude to wash all of the missing topsoil nearly 400’ uphill and off the property.

It will cost in excess of $40,000 to replace the topsoil to a depth of 2”, and a depth of 4” is recommended.

2.  Because the property was never graded according to plan – although Toll's attorneys insist otherwise  – there is ponding all over the backyard.  The grading plan called for a gradual slope from north to south and east to west that would have caused water to run off my property into an adjacent easement, where there is a storm sewer to carry it away.  (See Grading Plan.)  The actual grading left a low spot across the back yard that ends about 40 feet north of the easement, so the water all settles in my backyard instead of running off as intended.  This has created what my neighbors have come to call “Lake Nevins.”   Whenever there is a heavy rain, this lake extends about 40 feet across.  In addition, because all of the topsoil was removed and the ground was never compacted, water settles in smaller ponds all over the backyard.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report, Huffman Reportand photos.)

I should add that ponding and poor grading appear to be problems common to Toll Brothers homes in a number of states, according to the homeowners I interviewed for my video. 

3.  With regard to the land that Toll left unexcavated, they also left it littered with debris.  (See Criterium-Lockatong Report and photos.)  They never even bothered to remove the silt fence.

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