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Homeowners file lawsuits against NEXUS for property damage

13 lawsuits filed, more to come
Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 07, 2018

Property owners in at least four counties have filed lawsuits claiming construction of the NEXUS Pipeline has damaged their properties.

Four of those suits are from homeowners along Clinton Road in Doylestown. The homeowners believe clearing in the pipeline's right of way and erosion controls put in during construction have funneled water off a natural hill and down through their backyards.

"It just came so quick, you saw it coming and then you couldn't stop it," said Paul Nitz. 

Nitz has lived in his home for 40 years and said the flooding wasn't an issue until work on the pipeline started last spring.  Video taken in late May shows Nitz's backyard being swallowed by rushing rapids of muddy water.

"Everytime it rains, I'm always looking out there seeing if it's going to again or not," said Nitz.  

Next door, Erin Gibson shares a similar fear. 

"It was awful," said Gibson. "It was just heartbreaking. I mean I'm still upset by it."

Gibson and her then-fiancee had just finished six months of work landscaping their backyard when water came rushing through leaving behind ruts, tearing out a rock garden and scattering grass seed.

"We were actually planning a wedding in our backyard for six weeks going forward," said Gibson.  She and her husband were married in their front yard, instead.  

"It feels like it never really dried out because then we had no grass," said Gibson. "We had nothing. It's just been mud."

Nate Laps, president of Operations for Central Land Consulting says the problem can be found just up the hill from the neighbors, where a small ridge was added across the pipeline right of way during the project. Laps said the ridge is supposed to divert water, to keep it from running straight down the natural slope.

"The lay of the land has changed in this area and it's coming down and there's basically a hump or a wall here where it flows and it channels itself outside the easement and onto the properties," said Laps who's working with affected homeowners. 

Nitz and Gibson have both sued NEXUS and the contractor involved in building the stretch of pipeline near their homes. Both are asking for more than $25,000 in damages. But both homeowners say, more than money, they want to see changes made to protect their homes from rushing water.

"I didn't ever foresee something like this happening," said Gibson. "Changes were made that we weren't aware of and nobody asked our permission or came to talk to us about it. It just happened to us."

A spokesman for NEXUS said in a statement that he couldn't comment on pending litigation, but said, "NEXUS representatives have coordinated with landowners along the pipeline route for more than four years in order to develop a balanced approach to designing, constructing and operating the pipeline. Great effort has been taken to address individual landowner concerns and minimize disruption during the construction process."

NEXUS also says work to restore the right of way continues in a number of locations with crews scheduled to resume working once the weather improves.

Attorney Michael Thompson is representing both Nitz and Gibson. So far he's filed 13 lawsuits against NEXUS on behalf of homeowners but expects more to be filed in early 2019.