ONLY ON 3: Property owners want to know where money, developer Saunders are

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Submitted: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:45am
Updated: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 5:53pm

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Coastal Companies in Brunswick County will tell you it is the area’s biggest employer, but some customers paint a different picture. Upset property owners say developer Mark Saunders stole their money and ran.

Records show Saunders owes $3.5 million in taxes dating back to 2008.

“Coastal Communities created a dream, and they also shattered that dream,” Sunset Beach Mayor Richard Cerrato said.

Property owner Norman Fitzgerald agrees.

“The sales people said this was going to be his crown jewel – the Jaguar’s Lair Property – and that was going to be his legacy to the community,” Fitzgerald said.

Property owners like Fitzgerald were expecting lush greens, blue water and lavish luxury similar to Ocean Ridge Plantation, which was also developed by Saunders and the Coastal Companies. Instead, they have loose wires, run down buildings, empty lots and roads to nowhere.

To understand their pain, you need to know where it all began.

Property owners paid between $300,000 and $500,000 per lot six years ago. Then they lost even more.

“For many people that was there lifetime savings, and that has impacted their quality of life,” Cerrato said.

We received email after email. Complaints from property owners. They’re paying home owners association fees for unfinished amenities in Jaguar’s Lair. They can use all of the amenities at Ocean Ridge, but they want their own.

However , there is more than one side to a story, and in this case, there’s one house standing in Jaguar’s Lair. It belongs to Larry Sweeney.

“We had a very good experience with Saunders on buying the house, and I ultimately contracted with his company to build the house after looking at two or three different builders,” Sweeney said.

He can’t complain.

“When water was needed, it was here. When electric was needed, it was here. When sewer was needed, it was here,” Sweeney said.

In a statement, The Coastal Companies claims 114 home sites at Jaguar’s Lair are buildable, including Fitzgerald’s property. Documentation backs that claim up, but banks do not.

Property owners asked for construction loans, but their banks turned them away because of the missing infrastructure. And still, the burning question remains.

“Where’s the money?” Fitzgerald said. “I think he owes Brunswick County a flow of funds statement starting back in 2006 up to today’s date, as to here’s the money I brought in, and here’s where it went.”

“Some have called it a Ponzi scheme at (town) council meetings,” Cerrato said.

The Coastal Companies laughs at the claim. It points to a plaque representing good business, saying the money is invested in the community’s development.

Because of the money tied up in his Jaguar’s Lair property, Fitzgerald had to sell the home where he was living and move to Florida, where property and taxes are cheaper.

A top employee from the Coastal Companies, Deborah Boodro, did provide information for this story, but she refused to go on camera.

As for Saunders, we could not find a working personal number for him, and voicemails to his businesses went unreturned.

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18 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Property owners want to know where money, developer Saunders are"

2015 years 8 months ago

Have we touched a nerve? I guess you are aware that the casualty rate of the North was much higher than the South? However since most Southerns died on battle field with honor and most northern fighters died of cheek rot from taking a bullet in the a** , it just appeared one sided!!

2015 years 8 months ago

to make a seller! It’s kind of difficult to feel sorry for some dumb A##
Yankee know it all who went out and spent 500K on a half acre lot in some mosquito infested Pine Thicket on a dirt road!! I just can’t figure how in the name of God we lost that war? It certainly wasn’t due to inferior intellect.

2015 years 8 months ago

Just for historical perspective did most of them get shot in the right cheek or the left?

2015 years 8 months ago

After all of these years having gone by you still can’t figure out how you lost the war?

All of this time to figure it out, and you still haven’t, and you’re still claiming a superior intellect?

That makes about as much sense as that baseball stadium you were pushing.

Looks like you’ll just never have an intellect superior enough to be on a winning side.

The Fort Fisher Ghost(s)
2015 years 8 months ago

You my friend are very observant, insightful and funny. I agree, go figure both points….laughing while one does.
I now have to return to my property here in the soil of FF. Hey any redneck northern intested in by my little piece of heaven for 500K. Its a deal.

2015 years 8 months ago

That MrT, was a good one. Thanks for the chuckle!

2015 years 8 months ago

Fool. ’nuff said.

2015 years 8 months ago

I still can’t believe it either.

2015 years 8 months ago

…you lost the war because your guns were never shot and only dropped once…stop being jealeous and go live in your single wide, watch Andy Griffith and leave the posting to someone with a wee bit of objectivity…

Back in the USA ~
2015 years 8 months ago

Linda, that was absolutely the best comment I read on this entire page. Clearly Saunders has his ‘Trolls’ working overtime on “damage control” as many of these comments were surely written by his starving sales staff (John Matthew ?). I can only imagine that the once ‘high rollers’ of Brunswick Country Real Estate Sales, employed by Mr. Saunders, are now living in single wide trailers parked in those “mosquito infested pines” and cold calling for Ad sales ~

2015 years 8 months ago

I used to work for one of Mr. Saunder’s companies, I remember he always used to say “Denial (The Nile) is a river in Egypt” funny he can’t return calls or answer where all this $$ went.

John Smith
2015 years 8 months ago

It’s unfortunate that the developer has been delayed so long but the 2008 crash made the timeline change. A recent ruling makes it unlikely the plaintiffs will win this case. Note: I have a relative who bought a homesite in Waterbrook Woods.

“Mancuso v. Burton Farm Development Co. : Even if defendants impliedly promised to build a marina as part of the subdivision they were developing, the parties’ written contracts expressly disavowed any such obligation, and an express contract precludes an implied contract with respect to the same matter.”

Source: nclawyersweekly[D0t]com

2015 years 8 months ago

Mark Saunders and his companies have a lot for the residents of Brunsick county! He created jobs, homes, and dreams.
The economy he faces can not be controlled!

Blame the Banks and Government!!!

2015 years 8 months ago

Must be one of his “pawns” or current employees……I’d like to see how long your job lasts there. Get out while you can.

Yeah he has REALLY helped the community/county? Where did you ever see a lot that wasn’t ocean front worth over $500K? It’s sickening and sad when you have to see a borrower trying to keep their lot from losing it to foreclosure so they sale it as either a short sale or come to closing with THOUSANDS of dollars to keep good credit. Yeah he’s done such GOOD for this county; keep telling yourself that. You actually believe it?

2015 years 8 months ago

Obviously, you are working with him. Anyone with common sense and knowledge knows Mark Saunders is a scam artist and will be taken down. We are working on that now and it will come to a head. We will find all his hidden companies and hidden money and suck him dry until everyone is repaid. YOU, Justin, are just as bad a scam artist for accepting his money to try to cover his ass. Government has nothing to do with the scams he pulled, but they may be the ones to make him reimburse his victims. You’d better find another job before your name starts showing up in our searches and transcripts

Linda Beasly
2015 years 8 months ago

Justin (or whatever your name is), when you pull your nose out of Mark Saunders A$$ ~ please post something worthy of the time it takes to write it. You may want to start with your resume, online at Since it’s quite clear that you work for Mark Saunders, your current job has a definite “expiration date”. I wish you the best of luck in your new career with Burger King, Starbucks or Pizza Hut. As for Mark Saunders ~ “when the tide goes out, you get to see who’s not wearing a bathing suit” …. butt naked and in handcuffs (hopefully).

Norm Fitzgerald
2015 years 8 months ago

Saunders through 6 LLC’s now owns 23,000 acreas of land in Wyoming including a ranch with a tax assessment of $1.3 million. He owes $2.0 million on it.
Is it possible that some of this land was purchased with money that was supposed to be used for infrstructure in one of his many unfinished properties in Brunswick County? Saunders cries about the recession and it’s impact on selling property. Keep in mind that during this same recession Brunswick Forest was built and now has 800 homeowners. In addition Sunsett Ridge a small community was also built near Jaguars Lair in Brunswick County. I has 110 families. What is common about these two communities? They both completed promised infracture. Saunders LLC’s have prevented local business from reaping millions of dollars in increased sales and jobs because of thier lack of vision in completing the promised infrastructure in Sunset Beach, Shalotte, and Ocean Isle Beach. So where is the infrastructure money that was gained through lot sales in excess of $200 million dollars? “Something is rotten in Denmark” Shakespere

Don Dunn
2015 years 8 months ago

What people forget is that the lots they bought were based on the golf course an the ammenities promised.
The NC Govt and the Sunset Beach Govt have allowed this scam to take place by not enforcing the bonds that cover the infrastructure if the builder bolts .The governments have done a lot to protect the rights of the developers but very little to help the affected buyers.As has been noted this builder is not only screwing the people that bought his lots but also screwing the govt and the local commnunities out of the revenues they expected based on allowing Mr Saunders to proced with this development.
We have taken it on the chin