Fort Worth reaches tentative settlement for tearing down wrong house

03/26/2014 5:49 PM

03/27/2014 8:27 AM

The city has reached a tentative $102,500 settlement with a Lake Worth-area property owner whose house was wrongly demolished last year.

Subject to City Council approval, the city has agreed to pay $62,500, the contractor agreed to $15,000, and the contractor’s insurer agreed to pay $25,000 for the demolition at 9716 Watercress Drive, city spokesman Bill Begley said.

The house was torn down on July 12. On July 11, the same city-hired contractor also incorrectly tore down two homes on a lot at 1308 Lagonda Ave. on the city’s north side. The contractor’s work order was for the demolition of only one of the houses, which had been damaged by fire.

City officials have not identified the contractor.

The same city code compliance supervisor was involved in both cases.

With the Watercress house, a city crew marked the wrong house for demolition. The crew should have marked the house next door.

The potential settlement will go before the council in about two weeks.

After the wrong houses were demolished, the city halted demolitions of substandard structures and reviewed its procedures. It also placed the supervisor of the program on administrative leave.

Last year, the Tarrant Appraisal District said the 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bath home on Watercress had a market value of $122,200 market value — $82,200 in improvements and a $40,000 lot value.

David Underwood, the property owner, said the home had been in his family for years. He and his wife were planning to move into it. The couple discovered that it had been razed after returning from a trip to Boston and dropping by the house to mow the lawn.

What they found was a slab and a mailbox with the address number.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

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