Catasauqua Press

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Man concerned about collapse

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Eric Roth came to Catasauqua council’s workshop session Jan. 30 with a request for action. According to Roth, a neighbor behind his property constructed a retaining wall on the back edge of the neighbor’s property. The wall is failing, and Roth is worried the shed and embankment will collapse into his stockade fence and shed in his  backyard.

“I have a couple of children, and it isn’t safe for them to go out into the backyard,” he said.

Roth had talked to various people on borough staff, but no definite action was taken.

According to Roth, he talked to the neighbor, who said he has no money to fix the problem.

Roth had pictures of the situation and a letter he believed to be from the borough engineer indicating that the wall presented an immediate danger.

“I cannot go back there to fix my fence because that is the only thing that keeps the wall from collapsing,” he said. Roth’s rear yard at 211 Faith Drive is surrounded by a 6-foot-high stockade fence.

“The wall looks like it was made with railroad ties and never tied into the slope,” he said. “There does not seem to be any gravel behind the railroad ties for drainage,”

Solicitor Jeffrey Dimmich examined the letter and said it was not from the borough engineer and that the engineer had indicated the problem was a civil matter between neighbors.

“I’m not interested in suing my neighbor,” Roth said. “I need to get this fixed.”

Dimmich proposed that the borough engineer assess the situation.

“If it appears to be a public nuisance, the borough could step in and get the matter cleared up … even if we need to get the work done and lien your neighbor’s property,” he said.

If the problem is a private nuisance, Roth would need to take civil action.

“What’s going to happen if I take action is that he won’t pay, and I wind up paying for the repair,” he said.

Another possible solution is to wait for the hill to collapse and collect an insurance claim. Roth’s insurance company looked at the situation and has a record of how the wall is failing.

Roth does not want to wait until the wall collapses.

He walked away with hope that the matter could be resolved by the borough. The bluff behind Roth’s house is steep and was likely built before special conditions and rules were set for building on steeply sloped areas.