Arkansas Man Sues City for Putting Sewer Part in Yard

By ERIC NICHOLSON | November 30, 2011

An Ashdown, Ark., resident is suing the city for installing a sewer lift station in his backyard without permission.

Dale Ford said he returned to his Walker Street house, which had been rented during his six-year absence from Ashdown, to find that a lift station and a gravel access road had been built on his property.

The lift station, which pumps sewage to a higher elevation so it can flow downhill to a treatment area, was installed in 2006 as part of a $1.5 million sewage improvement project financed through a loan from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority.

The suit, filed by Texarkana attorney Michael Friedman, alleges the lift station was built without Ford’s permission and its location represents an infringement on his property rights.

“The odor is the main thing,” Ford said Monday. “I can’t use my master bedroom, and I can’t use my master bathroom (because of) the odor.”

A survey of Ford’s property commissioned by the city in September found the lift station and part of the access road were on his property and not the 10-foot-wide utility easement that runs behind it.

The same month, the City Council offered to pay Ford $2,500 for the square of land the lift station occupied, but he rejected the offer.

Mayor Carroll McLarty, who took office in January, said in September the construction of the lift station was a “terrible embarrassment for the city.”

He said Monday the city does not comment on pending litigation.

Ford is seeking compensation for lost property value, lost use and enjoyment of the property and other damages associated with the lift station. He also wants the lift station removed.

“I’m not on a vendetta, but what’s right is right. It’s just plain and simple,” Ford said.

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