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Resident faces problems dealing with sewer line under house

March 1, 2019 GMT

SAN BENITO — Under Mario Linan’s home, an old sewer line has raised a big stink.

When he built his house off Combes Street more than 30 years ago, he didn’t know the construction site stood over one of the city’s main sewer lines.

After all, around 1986 the city had granted him a permit to build the brick home at 1160 Combes St., Linan said yesterday.

Now, he’s discovered the main sewer line is broken.

Earlier this month, he said, he hired a plumber whose photographs show a break in the line.

“These are very old clay pipes. They’re very fragile,” Linan said as he walked across his three-acre property. “It doesn’t take too much to break clay.”

That broken main line’s probably the reason a corner of his home appears to be sinking, he said.

“I noticed the house sinking a little at a time,” Linan, a developer, said.

Linan believes the sewer line’s moisture has dampened the ground under his home, causing part of his house to sink more than an inch.

It wasn’t until April 2018 that city workers told him sewer lines ran under his home, he said.

“The city should have said you can’t build here because our line runs under there,” Linan said, referring to longtime Mayor Cesar Gonzalez’s administration.

Yesterday at City Hall, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa apparently did not have record of a permit used to build Linan’s house.

“I cannot speculate on what Mr. Mario Linan or the city of San Benito did approximately three decades ago at that site,” De La Rosa stated.

Linan began running into problems when the city launched a project to reroute sewer lines under his three-acre tract in May 2018.

To reroute the lines, officials requested he give the city a 400-foot by 15-foot easement under which workers could lay new sewer pipes.

“That was my land they took,” he said, pointing to a field near this home.

Along the easement, city crews installed a manhole a few yards in front of the house.

“To me, the manhole is too close to the house,” Linan said.

Ever since, the smell of raw sewer has filled his yard.

“All that smell sometimes gets into the house,” Linan said.

Then on July 24, Linan’s problems hit home when a worker rammed a backhoe into the corner of his home.

“Why the guy lost control and hit the house, I don’t know,” Linan said.

Ever since, a pile broken bricks appears to spill from a gash in the corner of his house.

“Several months ago, city works operating equipment did damage a corner of the Linan residence on Combes Street,” De La Rosa stated.

So far, Linan has waited seven months for the city to pay for the damage.

“Something like this shouldn’t take so long,” he said. “It’s just been delayed too long. We are taxpayers. I feel the city should be more helpful and considerate.”

Meanwhile, the city has filed a claim with the Texas Municipal League, a state-wide risk pool, De La Rosa said.

Now, De La Rosa is waiting for the city’s insurance carrier to pay up.

And Linan is still waiting to repair the damage.

“It’s frustration,” he said. “We want to be able to fix our home.”

Linan believes he might get stuck footing some of the repair bill.

“It is what it is. All I can do is move forward,” Linan said. “Probably, I’m going to have to pay out of my pocket so I can get it done properly.”