An Athens resident sues the city following the repair of a sewer line on his property

An Athens resident filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that officials replaced a sewer line on his property without permission over the summer.

Sean Jones, who lives on Columbus Road and owns nearly 6.4 acres of land, is suing for compensation and an additional $125,000. He took action through the Athens County Common Pleas Court.

The sewer lines are located only three feet outside of the city right-of-way and onto Jones’ property, but he argues that the city violated his Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

The Athens County Common Pleas Court filed a letter July 2 to Athens City Law Director Pat Lang requesting a response to the complaint, which is to be sent to Jones’ attorney, Robert Rittenhouse.

“The city merely conducted emergency maintenance on them when immediate action was necessary to prevent damage to private property and public infrastructure,” Lang said in his letter to Rittenhouse.

In the summer of 2009, city workers discovered a partially collapsed line underneath Jones’ property while they were fixing a storm sewer outfall line, according to the letter.

According to the letter, Andy Stone, the director of engineering and public works, believed that the 13-year-old line would eventually cause damage to the property and made plans to repair the line within one year using city funds.

But the repairs were put on hold “due to (Jones’) refusal,” Lang’s letter said.

It also said that Jones allegedly allowed workers onto his property to work, given that they tie in another drainage line. To avoid delay to the situation, the city completed the project for $40,000.

Lang added that the city is questioning whether the lines are even public. The letter said they were not built by the city, so they are not responsible for the lines being built “incorrectly.”

He also argues that there is nothing that clearly demonstrates that Jones should be compensated.

“The city believes that Mr. Jones has already benefitted greatly when the city tied in the new line,” he said in his letter. “That line was in poor condition and, when it eventually would have collapsed, would have been Mr. Jones’ responsibility to replace.”

Lang did not comment on where he believes the case will go from here.


This article appeared in print under the headline "Resident claims new sewer line violates amendment rights, responds with lawsuit."

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