Mansfield News

January 17, 2014

Property owner suing city of Arlington, Mansfield school district over storm runoff

Joe Harris has complained to city officials about damage to his land, but nothing has been done, his attorney says.

A pair of southeast Arlington property owners have filed a lawsuit alleging that runoff from a city drainage project and a Mansfield school district campus has made it impossible to sell their land for commercial development.

Joe Harris and Truett Harris, who own 14 acres in the 8200 block of Webb Ferrell Road — which is just west of Texas 360 and just north of Debbie Lane — say in the lawsuit that the construction of Della Icenhower Intermediate School and the drainage project caused part of their property to flood and wash away. The school is at 8100 Webb Ferrell Road.

Joe Harris’ lawyer, Richard Hayes, said that his client has complained to city officials but that nothing is being done to resolve the erosion problem.

“He communicates, but nothing happens,” Hayes said.

Richie Escovedo, a spokesman for the Mansfield school district, said that the administration is aware of the lawsuit but that the district can’t comment on pending litigation.

Sana Syed, a spokeswoman for the city said, “We are aware of the lawsuit, but we can’t comment further at this time.”

According to the suit, filed in Tarrant County district court, the trouble dates to 2003, when the intermediate school was being built and the drainage project was almost completed. Over time, water washed onto the Harrises’ property, taking away part of a fence and carving out a large trench.

“The construction of the school and the drainage project increased the amount and rate of flowing water along the drainage path. The drainage path follows alongside the Western side of Webb Ferrell Road until it turns and crosses underneath Webb Ferrell Road and then flows onto the Plaintiff’s property via a designed water crossing owned, designed, built, and maintained by the City of Arlington,” the lawsuit states.

Hayes said a church was interested in purchasing the property, but when representatives came onto the land, it was flooded, covered with water 3 feet deep in some places, and water also flowed across Webb Ferrell Road.

“What they’ve [the city and school district] done is make the property unmarketable,” he said.

The Harrises didn’t have any problems with flooding on the land before the construction took place, according to court documents.

Most of the land is vacant, but there is a rental home on the property that hasn’t been affected by the flooding, Hayes said.

The Harrises are seeking $200,000 to $1 million in damages.

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