Relief on the way for Jefferson County families forced to leave homes with no warning

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:33 PM CDT
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ARNOLD, Mo. (KMOV) - Relief is on the way for around 60 people who were given no warning when they were kicked out of a Jefferson County mobile home park over a leaking sewer line.

Recent reporting by News 4 Investigates exposed how the families were caught in the middle of a long-running dispute between the city and property owner over who’s responsible for the pipe.

“You’re ripping everything from families. I got three kids, I got a baby on the way. I work hard for everything I have and it just kills me,” said Daniel Boyer, who lives in the park.

Boyer’s family is one of 23 households at the Ozark Hills mobile home park in Arnold who found notices on their doors Friday afternoon. It was from the city telling them to pack up immediately since their homes no longer had sewer service and didn’t meet city code.

“I got kids that look up to me, my oldest daughter asking ‘Why can’t we use water?’ As a parent that sucks, I can’t answer those questions because it’s out of my hands,” Boyer added.

On Monday, Arnold City Administrator Bryan Richison said the city approved a plan to temporarily provide sewer service while they wait on a long-term fix. This comes days after the city approved contractors to cut sewer service to Ozark Hills with no plan for a temporary line or replacement.

“This could have all been avoided,” Richison said.

The sewer line to the park runs above-ground and over a creek. It is a known problem that has been deteriorating for years.

Last week, Richison told News 4 Investigates that he didn’t believe a temporary pipe was feasible.

“I don’t think I would feel comfortable authorizing that without some sort of engineering design done by somebody who’s an expert certifying that a temporary pipe could be put in safely, that would obviously take a lot of time,” Richison told News 4 during an interview on Friday.

On Monday, News 4 Investigates asked Richison what changed to allow the temporary line.

“I think the problem is we were still locked in a dispute about who was responsible, that has been the core of this dispute since 2018,” Richison said.

Rob Rosenfeld owns Ozark Hills mobile home park. He claims the pipe is the city’s responsibility. He says the city never told him the pipe had a leak and didn’t tell him they were cutting sewer service.

“I have not yet, as of Monday afternoon, gotten a notice, phone call, e-mail anything from anyone with the city,” Rosenfeld said. “We have a disagreement on who’s responsible for the sewer line in this area but it was not appropriate for the city to put the people out of their homes.”

Rosenfeld and city leaders had a meeting on Monday, which was scheduled weeks earlier, to try and mediate ownership of the sewer line. The area of line in question is on city property and Rosenfeld claims it has been maintained by the city for years.

“This is all city property, I don’t have a legal right to come on this property and make repairs,” Rosenfeld explained.

Rosenfeld said he agreed to pay for a temporary line as a way to get the 23 families at the park back in their homes.

“It’s horrible. I can tell you I feel terrible about it and I wish I knew what to do,” Rosenfeld said. “This is not how this is done. When you have to make a repair on a sewer line, you make sure there is some kind of bypass scenario or patch scenario created.”

Rosenfeld said he plans to pay for the temporary fix in order to get families back in their homes. He said he is considering legal action and questioning if policies regulated by the Missouri Public Service Commission were broken.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help the residents of Ozark Hills.