Sinkhole threatens Atlanta home, city denies responsibility - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Sinkhole threatens Atlanta family's home, city denies responsibility

ATLANTA (CBS46) -

It's a modern day story of David versus Goliath. A local homeowner decided to take on the city of Atlanta over a drainage dispute in his yard that is now a serious safety concern.

William Bledsoe's backyard is getting smaller by the day. It began vanishing after he bought the home on Sandspring Drive in Southwest Atlanta two years ago. There is a sinkhole that is approximately 18 feet deep just a few feet away from his home.

"You had no idea it was going to turn into this?" CBS46's Adam Murphy asked.

"No, I wouldn't have bought the house," Bledsoe said.

So just how close is the sinkhole to his home? Eight steps, which is dangerously close to his children's bedroom.

"I don't let them come out here. We play in the front yard because I'm concerned for their safety," Bledsoe said.

A drainage easement for the subdivision runs behind Bledsoe's property. Eight months ago the headwall of the drain detached from the pipe. The erosion that followed was massive.

"I've contacted numerous people with the city. I've called contractors, engineers, lawyers and nobody really seems to want to help," Bledsoe said.

Except for Mark Lee with Paul Lee Engineering.

"They're not responsible for the erosion. But they're responsible for the pipe," Lee said.

He's the engineer that surveyed the drainage easement 19 years ago before the subdivision was developed, and he believes the city is responsible for any repairs.

"The pipe is theirs, the pipe is theirs to maintain and take care of because they require it for the proper design of the subdivision. They're saying they're not responsible for the erosion, but they've got to take care of the pipe. The headwall falling off the pipe is their job. They need to get out here and take care of it," Lee said.

CBS46 News contacted the city of Atlanta and it said the property owner is responsible.

"This here stating that the drainage is required to be put in place by the city and signed off by the city says it's theirs," Lee said.

Lee said repairs could cost at least $4,000 and the longer the city waits, the more it will cost taxpayers.

"I've called contractors and had them come out and look and they've said there's no way this is your responsibility. It's definitely someone else's," Bledsoe said. "They're just hoping I'll go away. They don't want to fix it. They'd rather wait until it gets really bad I guess."

The city of Atlanta has said that if the homeowner and project engineer have documentation that holds the city responsible for maintaining the drain they want to see it. So engineer Mark Lee did just that, sending the city what he believes is proof it is responsible. We will continue to follow this story until action is taken.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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