Judge hears 5-ton, concrete wall case
By Brian M. Cuaron
April 25, 2011 at 7:04 p.m.
Updated April 24, 2011 at 11:25 p.m.
Keith Redburn and the city of Victoria will find out Tuesday whether his wall stands or falls like those of Jericho.
Redburn has installed a five-ton concrete wall in the mouth of a storm sewer culvert. He says that the sewer brings trash onto his property and erodes his soil - that's why he has filed an injunction in district court to keep the city from entering his property and tearing down his wall.
After a hearing that lasted five hours on Monday, Redburn said he felt good about his case but that it was now all in the hands of the judge. He said that he will "just accept the verdict, or whatever information comes down."
The city's case in part relied on city council minutes from as far back as 1931 that showed there has been qualms about the ditch in previous decades.
On June 29, 1931, the city discussed closing the ditch by running a pipe through it. On Aug. 24, 1931, two people wanted the pipe extended. By Sept. 14, 1931, it appeared that the pipe was extended, City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said on the stand.
The city has argued that the ditch, historically known as "Phillip's ditch," is naturally occurring. According to documents filed by the city, it improved the ditch in 1939 by installing the culvert where Redburn's concrete wall now stands.
The culvert, the city's documents say, was constructed with permission from the property's former owner and has alleviated flooding when it rains. The documents go on to say that the city acquired an easement from the property's former owner in 1983.
The city further argued that Redburn could be fined $1,000 per day and up to $5,000 per day if pollutants get into the city's storm water sewer system.
According to city documents, Redburn has left "the general public in jeopardy upon flooding. This is dangerous to the health and safety of any person in the area affected by Mr. Redburn's illegal acts."
Gwosdz and Redburn's attorney, Norman Jones, were unavailable for comment.
Victoria residents asked about the situation were sympathetic to both sides.
"Would you want your land to have diapers and needles?" said Victoria resident Joey Alkek, who added "I don't think (Redburn) has the right to just block it off."
Alkek said the city should help Redburn with the trash that comes onto his property from the storm sewer.
"If it's city property, then he doesn't have a leg to stand on," said Victoria resident Patrick Hubbell about Redburn's wall. "I certainly sympathize with his situation. "If it's city property and they're not cleaning it up, they got to do it."
Yet some were not so sympathetic to Redburn's circumstance.
"My thought is that they need to go to district court and put his butt in jail," Victoria resident Richard Voigt said.
Not everyone was that stern, though.
"They need to at least work with him," said Victoria resident Cathy Dorris. "I don't blame him, but I do know that legally it's the city's property."