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.