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HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — A deep hole filled with murky water just feet from a yard where children play. A Hampstead couple called us upset that a neighbor dug a deep pit at their property line.

It looks like a pond with water so deep, you can’t see the bottom of it.

“It’s very scary if you’re standing there looking at it and you’ve got little children,” Priscilla Williams said.

It’s almost sitting in Williams’s backyard. While she watches her grandchildren during the day, she refuses to let them play back there, afraid they may fall in.

“They could drown, and I’ve been complaining for years and nothing’s happened,” Williams said. “I think something should be done, because this could happen to anybody.”

We called Pender County and the Division of Land Resources to find out whether the Williamses have any right to complain when it comes to what their neighbor William Roberts does on his own property.

After speaking with the Division of Water Quality and the Division of Land Resources, we found out this pond is a mine pit that’s operating illegally, because Roberts never got a permit. If he had gone through the permitting process, it’s likely the state could have required Roberts to build a fence around the hole. That’s all Williams wants.

“If somebody would help cover the hole up, we’d be good,” she said.

We called William Roberts. He told us this was never a mine pit. It was going to be a catfish pond as a source of extra income.

The DLR says it has photos, which are proof that dirt was being hauled away. By definition that makes this hole a mine pit.

Roberts also says he was going to put up a fence.

“I started the fence,” Roberts said. “She come running out there telling me I was putting the stuff on her property, not on my property, and I had to go hire a surveyor to survey it and show her that I was on my property.”

And then, he got a cease and desist letter from the state.

“To cease all operations, that’s the way they put it,” Robert said. “So I stopped, and I haven’t been back. I’ve been out there one time since they stopped me.”

He says he’s not going to do anything with the pit until everything is sorted out with the state.

So far, the Division of Land Resources has cited roberts for mining without a permit and fined him $4,400. Once the injunction is filed, he may only have two options: reclaim the pit, which means either fill it or slope the edges to make it safer in case someone were to fall in accidentally, Or go through the process of getting a permit.


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