Homeowner sues city over sinkhole
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
October 07, 2011 12:00 AM | 2849 views | 7 7 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Gov. Roy Barnes has filed suit against the City of Marietta on behalf of a homeowner whose driveway caved in following the collapse of an underground stormwater pipe earlier this year.<br>Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan
Former Gov. Roy Barnes has filed suit against the City of Marietta on behalf of a homeowner whose driveway caved in following the collapse of an underground stormwater pipe earlier this year.
Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan
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MARIETTA — Former Gov. Roy Barnes has filed suit against the City of Marietta on behalf of a homeowner whose driveway caved in following the collapse of an underground storm water pipe earlier this year.

Barnes, who filed suit in Cobb Superior Court on Sept. 19 on behalf of Faye McBee, is requesting that the city pay for the cost to repair her Wright Street property, attorney fees, and that the court grant a permanent injunction to prevent the city from trespassing on her property.

In March, McBee noticed that the dirt beneath part of her concrete driveway was gone.

Directly across Wright Street from McBee’s home is a drainage culvert and storm sewer structure that Barnes maintains was constructed by the city. The pipe continues underneath the street, under McBee’s now-collapsed driveway and on under the house next door owned by Brenna Bentley Bitler.

Dan Conn, the city’s public works director, said the city extended offers to assist with the relocation of the culvert.

During a July meeting, the City Council approved an offer, 4-2, with Johnny Sinclair and Philip Goldstein opposed and Van Pearlberg absent, that would abandon the segment of the culvert that runs between McBee’s and Bitler’s properties, leaving the gaping hole for them to deal with. The vote called for the city to plug the pipe upstream from the two houses and reroute the water flow along Wright Street. Under that proposal, the city would pay $14,000 and the homeowners would pay a total of $8,265.

“Neither owner has accepted the offer,” Conn said. “Since there is no apparent movement by either owner to address the problem, Code Enforcement has condemned one of the structures that is at risk due to the failing culvert.”

The city condemned Bitler’s about a month ago, although she has long since moved out of it, said Sinclair, who represents the area.

Barnes maintains that since the city failed to repair the pipe, the damage to McBee’s property has become worse since floodwaters have made the hole larger.

“The action of the City of Marietta is continuing and is a result of negligent construction, installation and maintenance of the storm water system of the City of Marietta,” Barnes writes. “Faye is entitled to recover the cost of repair to her property as well as the diminution in value to her property as a result of the negligence of the City of Marietta.”

Barnes is requesting a jury trial in the matter.

“It’s just an awful situation. I love both (Bitler and McBee, who are in his district) of them dearly,” Sinclair said, adding that he couldn’t comment further because of the litigation.

Comments
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Voice of Reason
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October 07, 2011
The neighbor’s driveway across the street from me in Cobb County collapsed as well, but Cobb snubbed their nose at fixing his, but fixed the neighbor's driveway - The driveway washed out because Cobb County enlarged the drain pipe up stream due to increased residential and school construction - BIG wash out of his driveway! Cobb County should have stepped up and repaired it, but they didn't...
Marietta Resident
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October 07, 2011
Dear City of Marietta,

We are trying to get people to move to this city, remember ?

What is the new slogan now ?

"Move to Marietta..Where you can repair your own damn infrastucture..and go into debt in the process !"

Sincerely, City Taxpayer

kyla2
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October 07, 2011
The City of Marietta is out of their minds. They should have fixed this fast. As someone who knows more than a little about these issues, I can tell you they will end up paying big time (now for lawyer's fees as well). It is the city's sotrmwater drain. When it collapsed, casuing the culvert to collapse, they city became responsible. As you can see from the comments here, a jury trial is the last thing they need.
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
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October 07, 2011
Only in Marietta!
James Eubanks
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October 07, 2011
I applaud Faye McBee for suing the city on this matter. Regardless of who put the drain line in, the idea that Ms. McBee should be responsible for the cost when it clearly plays a significant role in the area drainage is ludicrous.

I am disappointed that the City did not have the means or leadership in place to realize that the best option for doing what is right, doing what is fair, doing what will benefit all, is to repair/replace the line. Ms. McBee should not have to pay for it, and now her right to defend herself and her property will cost the City much, much more in legal fees than just fixing the problem in the first place. Depending on how these legal proceedings go, the City might end up liable for the condemned house next door, too.

The one solution alluded to in a previous article was for Ms. McBee to simply repair the line as she wanted since it is supposedly not city property. I wish she had the means to pay a contractor to cap the line. I can only imagine how much flooding would occur on Marietta Parkway during the first good summer thunderstorm for this "non-City" drain line. Alas, it looks as if the residents of Wright Street will not get to savor such Schadenfreude.

anonymous
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October 07, 2011
Only government could cause a problem, then tell you they will fix it if YOU help PAY for repairing it and then if you don't accept their offer condemn your property. And the "brains" inside Marietta City government think it all makes good sense.
Only Lawyers
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October 07, 2011
Only lawyers can cloud the decision making of rational people and make doing the right thing so difficult.

Fix the problem, increase my taxes if you have to. It is the right thing to do.

P.S. You are just trading repair costs for legal fees. Assinine!

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