23 Jefferson County families forced to leave their homes without warning
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Nearly two dozen families living in Jefferson County mobile home parks said they were told to leave their homes Friday afternoon without prior warning.
News 4 Investigators learned this happened amid a long-running dispute over sewer pipes between the property owner and the city of Arnold, which has trapped families in between.
Eric Jurgensen, who owns a house in the park, said: ‘I built a nice house for the kids and it was just taken from me, it was just taken. “Someone who’s not doing their job is putting my family in an unfair position.”
According to Bryan Richison, Arnold City Administrator, someone reported a leaky aboveground sewage pipe flowing through a creek and into the Ozark Hills mobile home park.
Richison said employees confirmed the leak Friday morning, and by 7 a.m. he had agreed with contractors to remove the line.
“It is a very serious situation and we need to fix it as soon as possible,” explains Richison.
The crew removed the line and blocked the drain. They do not run a temporary line, so that the homes in the mobile home park are habitable because of city ordinances requiring sewer service.
“We needed to move quickly, it’s a very old pipeline,” said Richison. “I don’t know if you can safely put a temporary pipe in.”
Lines are a well-known problem. It has deteriorated over the years and is at the center of a long-running dispute between the city and property owners. Both claimed the other was responsible for the line.
Rob Rosenfeld, who owns the land and rents out to mobile home owners: “The city is always fixing this stretch of sewer.
Rosenfeld said he was not notified of the leak until after the city began tearing down the sewer line on Friday.
He believes the city’s job is to maintain the line. Rosenfeld says there is already a mediation scheduled for next Monday to talk about ownership.
“The exposed part of the sewer line in question is on their property, we are not comfortable walking towards their property, technically we do not even have the legal right to fix the line,” Rosenfeld explained.
Rosenfeld explained that they cut off water to the park to prevent sewage from flowing back into people’s homes.
While the city first learned of the leak Thursday night, residents of the Ozark Hills Mobile home park said they discovered it Friday afternoon when a notice posted on the door said they could not live in the house.
News 4 Investigators asked the city if it had a plan to help displaced residents find new homes, and the city said none were available.
“No water, no sewers, What will they do? I feel it’s not fair,” said David Edwards, who had to pay rent for himself, his friend and two children.
Other residents say they live on paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford a place to stay.
“Where am I supposed to go? I don’t have money,” said Terry Pyatt, “If I spend money on hotels, I don’t have gas, and if I don’t have gas, I have no way to work, without a job, I don’t have either. where to live”.
Pyatt said she put all her savings into buying her mobile home in January. She said she couldn’t afford to pay for a hotel so she was planning to stay at the park.
The News 4 family spoke to the question of why no one had told them sooner. The city claims it’s a legal technique and they can’t notify families until the sewer lines are cut.
The city and the property owner said they are both set to meet for conciliation via the pipeline on Monday.
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