Business owner fights city over sinkhole - WRBL

Business owner fights city over sinkhole

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Bob Weathers was shocked when two large sections of concrete caved in on his property in January. After going to city officials to fix the problem, however, he learned that wasn't going to happen.

The Weathers family bought property for their Ford Drive self-storage facility in the 80's. They didn't know the storm drain running underground was part of the package.

Now the city is telling Bob Weathers that it won't fix the sinkholes on his property because he owns the drain. He says, "They're telling us that we're responsible for all the water coming off the street, all the water coming in front of us, and if it keeps increasing, we've got to keep adjusting to it."

City engineer Donna Newman says the drain was likely a creek before the pipe was built and that the owners are responsible for changing it to adjust to increased water flow. "The city does not maintain pipes on private property," says Newman. "I can't find any record of where it was installed or ever maintained by the city, so it's his responsibility."

Although the city expects Weathers to take responsibility for the drain, none of the water running into it comes from the property. Weathers says, "It's water that goes 300 feet across our property. None of the water comes from us. It all comes from the street or other development."

Three years ago D.L. Moore faced the same dilemma across the street. It ended up costing him $80,000. "We had to replace all the pipeline," he says. "They said it was our responsibility because it was storm water runoff through our property."

Weathers told the city he'd fix it, by filling in the holes and effectively cutting off the drain, but the city said no way. He would then be responsible for the flooding and damage caused by the water.

Weathers says, "Even though they say its our private property, we can't do what we want to do with our property, so they just don't want to fix their problem."

So far more than 15 people have left their storage units because of the holes and Weathers says many potential customers are deterred by the caution tape.

Repairing the holes would cost at least $50,000. Suing the city would be hundreds of thousands.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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