Judge rules homeowner must tear down concrete wall
By By BRIAN M. CUARON
April 27, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated April 26, 2011 at 11:27 p.m.
Keith Redburn lost the battle of Jericho, but not necessarily the war.
District Judge Stephen Williams on Wednesday ordered Redburn, of Victoria, to remove his five-ton, concrete wall from a storm sewer culvert.
Redburn plugged the culvert March 28, claiming the storm sewer on his property brings trash and erodes his soil.
Redburn has seven days to tear down his wall. Otherwise, the city is authorized to go on his land, remove the wall and restore the culvert to its earlier condition.
"The city agrees with Judge Williams' ruling, and we are happy the court ruled in the city's favor," said Communications Director O.C. Garza in a news release. "Hopefully he will comply with the court's order."
But Williams also ordered the longstanding issues to be mediated. The order noted that Redburn had offered to resolve the matter with the city at little to no expense for either side.
Redburn and his attorney, Norman Jones, were happy with the outcome.
"This is a moral victory for the citizen against big government," Redburn said.
"For five years it's just been the doors slammed in my face, and there's been no action or voluntary cooperation from the city, and that's why I plugged the hole," Redburn added.
City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz was unavailable for comment.
Redburn paid $1,300 to build the wall and will pay another $400 to have it taken down. He said the cost was worth getting an issue resolved that he's dealt with since 2006.
"It's unfortunate a citizen has to go this far to get the city to accept responsibility for their actions, but I do not regret it one bit," Redburn said.
Robert Houston was assigned as the mediator. If mediation fails to resolve the issue, then there will be a trial.
Jones said he has had other mediations with Houston and that he was very hopeful the storm sewer issues will get resolved.
Jones said, "It's my opinion that when a district judge tells you to sit down and talk about this, he wants you to be serious."