News 4 Investigates: 23 Jefferson County families forced to leave homes with no warning
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Nearly two dozen families living in a Jefferson County mobile home park say they were told to leave their homes Friday afternoon with no warning.
News 4 Investigates learned this comes amid a long running dispute over a sewer line between the property owner and the city of Arnold, leaving families stuck in the middle.
“I built a nice home for the kids and it’s just taken from me, it’s just taken,” said Eric Jurgensen, who owns a home at the park. “Somebody not doing their job is causing me to put my family in another state of flux which isn’t fair.”
According to the Arnold City Administrator Bryan Richison, someone reported a leak in an above-ground-sewage line that ran over a creek and to the Ozark Hills mobile home park.
Richison says crews confirmed the leak Friday morning and by 7 a.m. he okayed contractors to rip out the line.
“It’s a very serious situation and we needed to get it fixed as soon as possible,” Richison explained.
Crews removed the line and stopped sewer. They did not run a temporary line, leaving the homes in the mobile home park inhabitable since city ordinance requires sewer service.
“We needed to move quickly, it’s a very old pipe,” Richison said. “I don’t know if you could safely put a temporary pipe in.”
The line is a well-known problem. It’s been deteriorating for years and has been at the center of a long-running dispute between the city and property owner. Both claim the other is responsible for the line.
“The city had always repaired this section of sewer line,” said Rob Rosenfeld, who owns the land and leases spots to mobile homeowners.
Rosenfeld says he wasn’t told about the leak until after the city started ripping out the sewer line Friday.
He believes it’s the city’s job to maintain the line. Rosenfeld says there was a mediation planned for next Monday to talk about ownership.
“The exposed section of the sewer line in question is on their part of the property, we were given no easement to go on their side of the property, technically we don’t even have a legal right to fix the line,” Rosenfeld explained.
Without a sewer line, Rosenfeld explained they cut water to the park to prevent the sewage from backing up into people’s homes.
While the city first learned about the leak Thursday night, residents in the Ozark Hills Mobile home park say they found out Friday afternoon when notices were put on their doors telling them they couldn’t live in the homes.
News 4 Investigates asked the city if there is a plan to help displaced residents find new homes, the city said there is nothing in place.
“No water, no sewer, What are they gonna do? I don’t feel like that’s fair,” said David Edwards, who had to pay for a motel room for himself, his friend, and two kids.
Other residents say they live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford paying for a place to stay.
“Where am I supposed to go? I have no money.” Terry Pyatt said. “If I spend my money on a hotel, then I don’t have gas, and if I don’t have gas I have no way to work, without work then I have no place to live either.”
Pyatt says she put all her savings into buying her mobile home in January. She said she can’t afford to pay for a hotel so she’s planning on staying in the park.
Families News 4 talked to questioned why no one told them earlier. The city claimed it was a legal technicality and they couldn’t alert families until the sewer line was cut.
The city and property owner say they’re both set to meet for mediation over the pipe on Monday.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help the residents of Ozark Hills.
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