Neighbor’s broken sewer pipe destroys Kansas City woman’s home, driving her to debt

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City woman says her neighbor’s sewer line is broken, causing an overflow of sewage to spill over onto her property.

It’s even causing her own foundation to cave in.

“It has wore me down,” Latrese Burnett said as she stood near the broken pipe. “Every day it’s a new issue. I never know what I’m going to have to deal with with. I wake up every morning finding cracks, doors shifting, windows shifting because the property owner at 3720 not taking care of her responsibilities.”

The property owner in question is Connie Hines, and Burnett told FOX4 they’re old friends.

“We both grew up in these houses,” she explained. “But now she comes into town and won’t even stop by or talk to me about how we can solve the issue.”

Hines has also been cited by the city numerous time for the broken sewer pipe, the residue and the smell it leaves behind. The case was first opened in March 2019, but records show it was closed in September 2019.

“The problem has not been fixed,” Burnett said. “I have a contractor coming over to give me a new estimate for the floors in my bathroom; I’m no where near done with this mess.”

FOX4 attempted to call the city inspector that would have come onto both properties to access the damage. His cell phone went to voicemail and his office number redirected to a dead end. So FOX4 took a trip to the Neighborhood and Housings Services Department.

“We observed the same things that you have and the property owner next door has,” said John Baccala with the department.” What’s tricky is when you’re dealing with private property.”

There are certain regulations that the city must follow when it comes to inspecting and working to correct issues that occur on private property.

However, records show that several citations were issued for the problem at hand and then closed six months later — before the issue was fixed.

“We were under the impression that all the work had been completed,” Baccala said. “Keep in mind we have 45 code inspectors and over 13,000 cases, so sometimes we’re misinformed and don’t get the accurate information.

“But believe me, now that we know this problem exists, we will be back out there to inspect.”

FOX4 shared the news with Burnett who was happy to hear it. But her private contractor said it needs to happen fast.

“For it to get to the point that it’s at, that water had to be building up for years,” said Darrelon Ceawood of Anointed Hands Construction & Maintenance. “There’s some plumbing issues going on that’s causing a lot of shifting in the property and the foundation itself.”

Ceawood told FOX4 this issue spreads further than the home.

“I had to build her a new wall out front and her driveway is completely cracked in multiple places from all the water coming up,” he said. “When your home shifts, everything is going to shift. Once your foundation starts to move, quite naturally you’re going to have walls moving and floors shifting and bucking.”

Burnett has already paid over $10,000 for damages accrued from her neighbor’s back flow of sewage. Foundation One quoted her another $36,000 to correct her home’s foundation.

“It’s a waste of money as long as that plumbing issue is there,” Ceawood said. “The main source has to be addressed in order to really correct everything. If the issue is coming from the neighbor’s, starting here will not correct that because the issue hasn’t been addressed.”

Ceawood told FOX4 that the broken pipe could cost $10,000 to fix, adding that older homes have clay pipes that must be replaced, regardless of if it’s broken or not.

“Clay pipes eventually collapse, even with small roots of trees they can cause a lot of issues,” he said.

Burnett told FOX4 that the homeowner next door lives in Dallas, but she has hopes that she will stop ignoring her request to adhere to the issues that experts say are destroying her home.

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