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CONCORD, N.C. It s a temporary victory and a huge sigh of relief for neighbors in the Cinnamon Hills neighborhood of Cabarrus County.

The county discovered that 3.4 wooded acres of their neighborhood had nearly $15,000 worth of back taxes due, something the neighbors knew nothing about. But now Cabarrus County has given the neighborhood one year to pay off the debt.

The neighbors were surprised to learn the woods were theirs and even more surprised to learn that they had a homeowners association they didn t know about. The homeowners association is responsible for the roughly $15,000 bill, which ultimately means they are responsible.

The back taxes jumped onto the tax assessor s radar in late 2011, which prompted a notice to the neighbors explaining that back taxes of almost $15,000 were due. If left unpaid, the debt could send the property to foreclosure and eventually to the courthouse steps for auction.

Even worse, the neighbors would be held responsible and could be individually tagged with a foreclosure on their credit records.

It s a complicated mess to sort out for sure, but now at least, they have time to do just that.

I think the county has gone above and beyond with granting us this extension, said neighbor Jeff McKinney. They have given us one year to pay off the debt and six months to go ahead and get the homeowners association organized.

Getting this problem solved for good really depends on getting a neighborhood homeowners association for the 65 homes organized and activated.

This mess was originally put into motion by the mere oversight of the builder not filing for tax exempt status on that wooded common area back in 1991 when Cinnamon Hills was built. Neighbors recently changed that status so future taxes don t accrue.

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