City sues Jacksonville homeowner over street flooding issues

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In Beauclerc Circle every time there's a heavy rain the street floods and there is a drainage problem.

"All of that is private property, none of that is city's but when it rains it floods," said Jay Higbee.

Higbee knows he lives in the neighborhood and is now being sued by the city because of the flooding problem.

"I think it is a misunderstanding that they think the easement went all the way to the river and it does not," said Higbee.

The city is accusing Higbee of filling in a drainage easement and thus contributing the the flooding problem. But Higbee said if there is a drainage easement it is not on his property.

"The city asked my grandfather for an easement in the seventies and eighties and both times he turned them down," he said.

In 2010, he built a wall as part of the security around his home. The design was approved by the city's planning and zoning, and he was given a permit.

"I thought we did everything right," said Higbee," we had three inspections while we were building and everything was signed off on."

But in 2011 the city revoked his permit for among several things including, " obstructing the flow of water by filling of a drainage ditch and covering a drainage pipe running from Beauclerc Circle to the St. Johns River along your northeasterly property boundary line."

Higbee was given ten days to correct after he didn't the city filed suit against him.

"We don't comment on pending lawsuits," said Dave DeCamp," but the city has a legal right to address flooding issues and will fight this lawsuit vigorously."

DeCamp said the deed to the property includes a drainage easement.

In its lawsuit the city points to a drainage easement deed recorded December 18,1959 to the Ulrich family.

The city would like Higbee to remove his wall, he is fighting back.

"It is very expensive to fight the city," said Higbee, " all we ask is to be able to enjoy my family's home and we are unable to do so as present."

He feels he has won the first round by proving to the court that the city does not have an easement that runs through his property to the St. Johns River.

Higbee said he has asked for a meeting to discuss possible solutions, he said they've hired an engineer who has developed a solution that should resolve any conflicts.

Higbee said the ball is in the city's court.


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