Trailer Park Controversy Lands in Court
Property Owner Claims City Wants Him "Out of the Way" for DOT Project
A trailer park controversy in South Columbus landed in Superior Court Friday afternoon.
The City put residents of the Fort Benning Estates on notice over the Christmas holidays telling them they had to relocate because the property was declared uninhabitable.
Codes and Inspections noted raw sewage at the trailer park on Farr Road and promptly told people to get out.
The owner of the trailer park suggested it was prime real estate now and that’s why the city suddenly cares about living conditions.
Judge John Allen making a cameo appearance in Court told the parties he would listen but he didn’t have jurisdiction or the authority to issue a ruling on the dispute.
The Judge suggested they use the time to “work it out”.
City attorneys told Caleb Walsh , the owner of the Fort Benning Estates they don’t want his property they just want him to clean it up.
The trailer park they said was “in a state of squalor” and raw sewage seeping out was a deal breaker ordering residents to vacate immediately.
Walsh zeroed in on the Columbus Water Works and his bills that skyrocketed into the thousands in a matter of 90 days because he argued the pressure is too high.
“My attorneys, several attorneys, experts said you know maybe Columbus Water Works isn’t being so reasonable and maybe this whole city problem is something much bigger than this because really they want me out of the way,” Walsh told First News exclusively after the hearing.
Out of the way he says for that $55 million dollar Department of Transportation Project or TSPLOST targeting improvements and off ramps to I-185 in South Columbus.
Construction is scheduled to begin next year.
The attorney for the Water Works shot back leaky pipes are the property owner’s problem and the rubbish is the source of the problem not the water company.
“There would be no shut down. There wouldn’t be 60 families being put out if there was a little rubbish on the ground. This is water pipes bursting which caused the city to create violations because the Water Works will not work with me on the water pressure,” Walsh said.
The City gave the property owner a short list of things that needed to be done to bring the property in compliance, including removing the human waste, assessing each trailer for structural integrity and removing those not up to snuff.
“My hands are really tied because the City is saying fix the plumbing issues which is really the core. The rubbish on the ground, that’s 15 minutes of (cleaning up). That’s something caused just by default,” Walsh said.
Ultimately there was no real resolution with the Columbus Water Works threatening to pull the water meters from the property on Monday even though the City granted a 30 day extension to get those needed repairs completed, without water it will be incredibly difficult.
The owner returned to the courthouse for a second time late this afternoon and has agreed to pay his outstanding water bills which top nearly a hundred grand now for all of his property.
Caleb Walsh says he believes his residents can’t be forced to leave without a formal eviction notice but will work to make the upgrades requested by the city Codes and Inspections Department.