Charlotte homeowner claims city project could collapse house

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte homeowner says the city’s plans to fix erosion issues at a creek could cause her house to collapse. Despite her warnings she says the city won’t budge.

Like the turbid waters in the creek beneath her home, Ilonka Aylward says the City of Charlotte has been opaque when it comes to a project planned on her property.

“You can’t talk to them and nobody ever tells you who decides,” Aylward said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services is conducting an improvement project on this street to reduce flooding and erosion in this stream.

In order to do that they need access through Aylward’s property through an easement.

“They they insist on grading and cutting in the bank and they say this is for access,” Aylward said.

But according to an engineer Aylward hired, Storm Water’s plan “poses substantial risk to the structural integrity of (her) residence.” The engineer argues that part of the reason is because the slope storm water is creating from the creek to her home is too steep

“In his professional opinion it is highly likely that the slope failure will occur, so that is the safety of this stream, that is the safety of any infrastructure that might happen to be in this stream, and that is the structural safety of my house,” Aylward said.

In January of 2020 Aylward even went in front of city council to argue for an alternate plan. But Storm Water Program Director Mike Davis said he stood by the city’s third-party consultant work.

But in a lawsuit Aylward filed against the City and Storm water services, Aylward points out the independent party, is an engineering firm the city hires to design the project.

She also claims that engineer is prohibited from talking to her through stipulations in their contract with the city.

“So that’s a gag on the whole engineering firm and the practical effect as I understand it, is that when I email them, when I call them, they don’t pick up the phone,” Aylward said.

In her lawsuit she claims the city has a “practice of withholding information empowers them to obfuscate, mislead and even misinform the unaware public and the citizen landowners affected by stormwater construction.”

She says getting answers about how changes to the project happen is impossible.

“So I never looked in the eye of a person who actually can make a decision and make this happen,” Aylward said.

The only reason Aylward has even gotten this far is because she’s an attorney and filed the lawsuit herself.

WBTV reached out to the city to get their response to this homeowner’s claims but they declined to comment because of the lawsuit.

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