Man suing Brownwood says home has lost 35 percent of its value due to collapsed storm pipe

A Brownwood homeowner is claiming that a collapsed storm sewer running underneath his property is causing damage to his house and driveway, which has supposedly brought down his home’s value by 35 percent.

Jerry Shepherd bought his house along the 2500 block of Good Shepherd Drive in 1998 and although the home was built in 1976, it is starting to give him problems that he never could have predicted happening to him after purchasing the house 20 years ago.

"I didn't get too concerned about it until four or five years ago, until we started seeing the big cracks in my driveway," Shepherd said.

Shepherd said that years of inaction forced him to file a lawsuit against the City of Brownwood last July holding the city liable for the damages that his property has sustained.

Shepherd has often criticized Brownwood City Council members for not being able to come up with a plan to remedy the situation with his home.

"I just keep telling them, I'll give them the easement, but only when we come to some kind of agreement that you're also going to make sure my house is repaired," Shepherd said. "And that's the only thing I've been asking."

On Tuesday, Brownwood City Council members met in an executive session to discuss how to settle Shepherd's lawsuit with the City of Brownwood.

After talking with each other for over an hour and a half, the Brownwood City Council members voted four to one in favor of fixing the storm pipe and paying Shepherd a settlement.

Details of the settlement are not being released to the public since it was talked about in a closed session, but Shepherd said that the City of Brownwood's agreement did not offer nearly enough money to adequately repair his home.

KTXS News requested an on-camera interview with Brownwood City Manager Emily Crawford and Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes regarding the issues with Shepherd's residence.

Citing a pending lawsuit, Crawford instead released a statement to KTXS News that stated, "The City remains committed to repairing the damaged storm drain for the benefit of the Shepherds and everyone who depends upon the drainage that it provides."

Haynes did not respond to the request for comment made by KTXS News.

Below is the City of Brownwood's full statement on the situation:

In 1974, the City was granted a 15-foot wide storm sewer easement from Avalon Court to Willis Creek. A 48-inch storm drain was installed by the developer of the neighborhood. In 1976, the house presently owned by Gerald and Deborah Shepherd was constructed at 2514 Good Shepherd Dr. A portion of the house was built over the City’s easement and storm drain. Additionally, a concrete driveway was poured over the easement.
The storm drain was constructed of corrugated metal, which was common for the time. After 40 years, the line has rusted and began collapsing under the corner of the Shepherd’s house, where the house protrudes over the easement. Due to erosion, this has left a large void beneath the Shepherd’s driveway and house. Ordinarily, the City would dig up a decaying storm drain and replace it. However, due to the fact that the house and concrete driveway were constructed over the City’s easement, this is simply not an option.
The inability to use conventional methods to replace the storm drain has dramatically increased the cost to repair the line. The City has explored many repair options ranging from $226,000 to $529,000. This is an expense that will ultimately be borne by the taxpayer. Accordingly, the City has endeavored to find a cost-effective remedy. Currently, the City is proposing to slip line the decaying corrugated metal line with a polyurethane pipe. Once the new pipe is in place, any voids will be filled. This work will begin soon, if Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd provide a temporary construction easement to the City and its subcontractors.
Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd filed a lawsuit seeking damages against the City in July of last year. The City turned the claim over to its liability provider, and the provider has denied the claim and is defending the lawsuit. Regardless of the outcome of the litigation, the City remains committed to repairing the damaged storm drain for the benefit of the Shepherds and everyone who depends upon the drainage that it provides.
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