LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – Cathy Doxsey questions why county government didn’t respond a year ago and repair a hole that opened on a county easement behind her house.
Now, the hole – which measures several feet deep in some places – has grown larger, and another one has opened beside it. A neighbor also reports foundation issues.
“It started out probably as big as a basketball and then it has gradually gotten bigger and bigger and bigger because what’s happening is the dirt is washing down in the hole because there is a hole in the pipe somewhere,” Doxsey said.
Doxsey has been complaining since the hole first started and even attended a Pinellas County Commission meeting, pleading for help. She says the hole is dangerous and that she discovered it after her partner fell into the hole up to her waist.
“I have a beautiful backyard and I can’t even sit out here, I can’t have people over because I’m afraid of this situation,” she said.
Getting nowhere on her own, she turned to Better Call Behnken.
“They keep giving me the runaround back and forth. ‘It’s the city, no it’s the county, it’s the city,'” she said. “You know, I don’t know what to do at this point.”
While Doxsey says she was told it’s either the city or county’s issue, that changed after Investigator Shannon Behnken started asking questions.
Less than 24 hours after Behnken started making calls, the City of Largo responded with a code violation telling Doxsey its investigation found old non-permitted pipe connections coming from her property. They said she has just 30 days to disconnect the illicit pipes from the stormwater pipe and repair the hole where the two pipes are connected.
That not only stunned Doxsey, who says she wasn’t aware of any non-permitted pipes on her property, but she said that still doesn’t address the problem of the dangerous hole creeping in from the county easement.
A county spokesman said the county can’t address the stormwater pipe or the hole until the smaller connector pipes are removed.
It’s not just Doxsey who received a code violation. Tom Showalter, who owns a commercial property next door, received the same letter. He says he has owned the property since the 1980s and knows nothing about illicit pipe connections.
Showalter said the foundation of a structure on his property is now cracking, a result of the hole from the county easement that is spreading.
The next step: Doxsey and Showalter plan to hire contractors to begin the pipe work. Meanwhile, the city investigation into other possible non-permitted connections continues.
Better Call Behnken will follow this story and help navigate these property owners through this complicated situation.