CEDAR HILL — Anna Robles is caught between a between a rock and a hard place; or, more accurately, between a culvert and a drain.
"I don’t see how the city can be okay with this," she said. At one end of her backyard, a culvert; on the other end, a storm drain.
In between the two, there's a 120 foot long diagonal ditch that cuts right through her property.
Robles and her husband knew about it when they bought the home in 2009, but they didn’t know it would become a raging torrent during heavy rains — or that it would become overrun with vegetation after many rains.
Lined with rocks, the ditch can’t really be mowed. The brush is growing out of control, and storm water backs up in the Robles’ backyard in Cedar Hill.
Cedar Hill spokesman Corky Brown said the city does own and maintain the culvert and the drain. But as for the no-man’s-land that lies between: "It’s a matter of property and property rights."
The ditch is the homeowners’ property, but because it drains into the watershed, the city has asked them not to spray weed killer; and they can’t fill in their own backyard.
“We can’t allow an owner to build a dam or something that would stop natural flow," Brown said. He acknowledges this is an "awkward" situation, but points out the city is willing to bury a pipe to handle the runoff.
That project would cost $25,000. The catch is, the city wants the Robles to pay $7,500 of that total.
"Unfortunately we can’t just step in there and fix it because then everyone in the city who has an issue will say, 'Hey, I need a retaining wall.' 'I need this' and 'I need that,' and there’s not enough money for those kinds of things," Brown said.
The Robles are considering the city's offer, but say they don’t understand why repairing a community storm water problem should drain their bank account.
"I think this should be completely covered by the city and done the right way like it should have been at the beginning," Anna Robles said.
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