North Kansas City says collapsing backyard is homeowner’s problem

Problem Solvers
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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You might think of an earthquake when you see the huge crack running along the back portion of Markus Lindley's backyard.

"This whole crack is where my problem is," said Lindley.

Storm water runoff is slowly causing a large chunk of his backyard to slide into the public park below his North Kansas City home.

"I'm going to end up losing all of this going down this hill," Lindley said.

The retired veteran blames the city of North Kansas City. He said since the erosion is caused by storm water and eventually ends up in a public park, the city should pay to fix the problem.

The city did pay to restore a neighbor's property. But the city points out that the neighbor had a collapsed storm drain on his property. Since that storm drain belonged to the city, it was not the homeowner's responsibility.

Lindley has no city infrastructure connected to his problem.

Fixing the sinking property could cost thousands of dollars. That's money Lindley said he doesn't have and his homeowner's insurance won't cover because, so far, the sinking land hasn't reached his home.

North Kansas City officials say they are sympathetic to Lindley's plight, but are prevented from using public money on private property. Unlike some cities, there are no public grants in North Kansas City that homeowners can apply for to make improvements on their property.

Five years ago, North Kansas City paid an engineering company to investigate the erosion all along Lindley's side of the street.

It was determined then that the problem was caused by the collapse of a retaining wall built by the developer of the subdivision decades ago.

Maintenance of the retaining wall is the responsibility of the homeowners, a city spokeswoman said.

Lindley, however, remains convinced there is a city stormwater pipe on his property, although the city denies it.

At a FOX 4 Problem Solvers request, North Kansas City paid a second visit to the Lindley property, but determined again there are no city services running under his land.

That means Lindley's sinking backyard, appears to be a problem that is solely the responsibility of Lindley to solve.

Final Note: Lindley told Problem Solvers he plans to consult with an attorney before giving up the fight. Problem Solvers spoke to two attorneys -- Scott Shachtman and Michelle Burns -- who told us it's possible that Lindley might have a case against the city if new development in the area had caused an increase in water runoff. But there hasn't been any new development.

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