RICHLANDS, ONSLOW COUNTY -

 An Onslow County community in Richlands is concerned over a sinkhole that's affecting their backyards. Neighbors in the Trifield Estates Community said sinkholes have appeared along a row of houses on their street and across the neighborhood.

Resident Cory Dunlap, said neighbors have reached out to several agencies and filed official complaints without a real outcome.

“We can continue to dump money to try to keep our kids safe and keep the fences from caving in, but it’s just never going to stop. The underlying problem is the drainage ditch is not properly sealed,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap said the underground water drainage pipes beneath the fences along Amberwine Circle are getting soil in them, which creates gaps in the ground that turn into sinkholes.

Neighbors tell NewsChannel 12 that the sinkholes have been an issue in their backyards for over a year.

Resident, Tonya Dunlap said all the grass and weeds growing over the sinkholes makes them hard to see, posing a potential threat for children and pets playing in the backyard.

“My son and a couple neighborhood boys, several times I've had to yell at them to get out of the sinkhole before we put the gravel in there because to them it’s a fort. You don’t know how far under it goes or when it’s going to cave in,” Tonya said.

The question for the residents is: Who is responsible?

Neighbors said the City of Richlands should fix the problem. However, Richlands County Manager Greg Whitehead said the developer put those pipes in, and the state signed off on the storm water permit.

Whitehead said the developer of the neighborhood or the state would likely be responsible. On Friday, he  said the developer for the affected neighborhood plans to inspect the problem soon.

A private licensed engineering company hired by an insurance company inspected some of the sinkhole areas. Their analysis said one location showed no evidence of a geotextile fabric at the joint of the water pipes.

Geotextile fabric is used to seal pipes and prevent water or soil from getting in them, which is NCDOT standard protocol.

Until the pipes are sealed, the report shows storm water run-off flowing through the backyards will continue to go into storm pipes creating sinkholes.