Brownwood City Council members approved an agreement Tuesday with south Brownwood residents Jerry and Deborah Shepherd that will lead to the repair of a city-owned, partially collapsed drainage pipe the Shepherds say has caused damage to their home and driveway.
The Shepherds have agreed in principal to the plan but had not yet signed the agreement as of Tuesday afternoon, Brownwood City Attorney Pat Chesser said.
The repair to the drainage pipe is expected to cost about $250,000, Assistant City Manager Tim Airheart said. The funds will come from a 2016 Certificate of Obligation, Airheart said. He said the repair will benefit other residents of the neighborhood because if any more sections of the pipe collapse, it could cause water to back up into homes.
The Shepherds claim in a lawsuit against the city that the city is liable for damage to their home and driveway at 2514 Good Shepherd, where the city has a drainage easement across a portion of the Shepherds’ property. The pipe, which abuts Willis Creek, passes under the Shepherds’ driveway and a corner of their home, Jerry Shepherd has told council members.
The agreement does not settle the lawsuit, which remains pending in 35th District Court, Chesser said.
According to the agreement, the city denies any liability, culpability or wrongdoing in the dispute with the Shepherds. The city desires to repair the drainage pipe “to assist with drainage in the area and to assist the Shepherds in stabilizing their driveway and house,” the agreement states.
The city will pay the Shepherds $11,050 for a temporary access easement and for damages to the foundation of the home, the agreement states. The city will coordinate repairs made by the Shepherds’ foundation and gas line contractors, the agreement states.
The city will then slip-line the pipe with about 300 feet of 36-inch polyethylene pipe. The city’s contractor will also inject grouting foam to fill the void under the Shepherds’ driveway.
Throughout the project, the section of Good Shepherd in front the the Shepherds’ and a neighboring property will be inaccessible. After the project, the portions of Good Shepherd that were disturbed will be repaired and reopened to traffic.
Shepherd told city council members in November 2017 that his life had been in a “rut” since the damage — which included a void under his driveway and cracks in his floor — was discovered 2 1/2 years earlier.
Mayor Stephen Haynes and City Manager Emily Crawford met with Shepherd at his home after the 2017 council meeting.
Shepherd said then that he bought the home in 1977. The home was built over an existing drainage easement that was recorded in the official deed records before the home was built, council members were told.
Shepherd filed the lawsuit against the city in July 2017. The lawsuit claims the city filled to implement a maintenance policy regarding the pipe and did not maintain it, and did not warn the Shepherds that proper care was not being given to maintain the pipe.
Shepherd told council members at that time that he did not favor the slip-line option, saying it would not repair damage that’s already occurred.
In the slip-line procedure, a pipe will be assembled in one long piece and pulled through the existing drain pipe, council members were told. The area between the new and old pipes would be grouted, and grout would be used to fill any voids under the driveway or property.
The slip-line solution “will repair the collapsed drain pipe, fill and stabilize any underground voids which might cause any instability … at the least cost to taxpayers,” council members were told.