Please Help Me, The City Is Intent On Taking My House.

      I am in a horrible situation with no one to turn to: for the past two years I have been fighting my city's underhanded tactics to take my house and plow it down for new development. Many organizations help with dealing against federal government or big banks, but it seems nobody notices how abusive and underhanded city governments can be (I guess you must know about the poor man who blew himself up in his house because he was loosing it after the city of Marietta Georgia put him in jail for Planting Onions, a few months ago).
Anyways from talking to two different attorneys I have learned that there is no higher form of government that you can turn to when a city is doing something wrong, that if I had money in large amounts to sue them I could, but if not I'm at the mercy of their whim.
I heard there is a process by which a property can be emancipated from a city and become part of the unincorporated county, I want to do that but don't have the money for that either. Maybe you know of any organizations that help fight abuse by city governments. This all started when the city decided ther new "grand master plan with visions for the future" in which the old small houses in the center of town were determined by their analysts to be inhabitedd by poor uneducated mostly renters (they actually have their study with statistics) and precisely that area was drawn in their plan as new construction for downtown. If they at least wanted to use eminent domain and pay something to us, but they found an easier way they doubled the taxes for that new developing area only (funny tha in the rich people area, the map has as new development only the road but not the houses so they are not taxed at that rate, and in the poor area it includes the houses). By the way, all that decisionmaking was done without us from the poor area being informed that we would be included, they posted that there would be a redevelopment on Main Street only and never publicized any of our side. That was approved in 2006 and until 2007 that I went to the city planning department and asked to see the plans, I found out why we had been double taxed: we had been zoned as Street without even being informed. They told me it was too late to appeal, but not to worry because it applied only in case I wanted to tear down my old house to rebuild (as if that is much better). Most people in this area started loosing their homes to taxes or foreclosures so the large development behind us was on its way. To be able to take ours, the excuse was that the old retaining wall 20 ft. behind our house was in disrepair and endangered the homes so they were giving 30 days to submit engineering plans to request a permit to repair or they would be condemned. The city judge (city not magistrate) told us that if they tore them down the cost was more than the value of the land so we would just loose all. When that was hapening I went to talk to the engineer in the big project accross from us, he did not know who I was, and said "I heard that there will be a bridge crossing over there (pointing to my house) for access" and he noded saying that they were in talks with the city that in about a month they would know if they could or not. That was over a year ago, but a few days ago someone talking about me to the building inspector got this comment from him about me: that they (in the city management) were still so surprised that I was able to pull it off (survey and engineering plans that by law they had to give us the 30 days) that not even their judge was able to take us out (those were his words). They have made it unusually hard to get the job done incerasing our costs: they found fault with every plan, two engineers quit on us saying the city obviously was acting unreasonably, they delayed the permit until rainy season started but took more than a year reviewing it. Funny that their engineer while we were in city court said as expert testimony for why they had to condemn that our houses' structures would be severely compromised and collapsing in two years (that was almost 3 years ago) which makes me wonder if the delays in approving were in the hopes that it would really impair the structure. I have shown what we submitted and what they have been asking for to the county (not city) inspector and he agreed that it was beyond what the usual they would have asked for. To top it all, the first engineer we had pointed out to them that the damage was all caused by excessive water runnoff from the culdesac (city street) which was built with the wrong inclination so instead of collecting the water into the drain it goes on our driveway so our damage was their fault anyways. Now because of dealing with their excess water our project is going very slowly, our building permits expires on June 9 and our builder overheard that they are planning not to renew it but instead use the opportunity to condemn.
We asked them to take care of the water problem for us to be able to build (there is another collapsing retainin wall on another side of the subdivision and a lot of water comes from there crossing two yards, an erosion control engineer told me that especially when it is water from several properties, cities can intervene at least to tell them to divert it, in our case the city refused even after telling them that tose homeowners refused to let us put sandbags in their yards to divetr the water) in other words, the city is happy to see that we deal with the problem of water from everyone else that shouldn't even by design be coming to us but to the badly placed stormdrain. This has been an uphill battle to try to save my house, I stopped using hot water and air conditioning last summer to be able to pay engineers, I am poor (on food stamps) and use the money I would for other necessities to pay for professionals, even the city people are surprised to see I have not given up with all the roadblocks, but my resources are spread really thin and am at a point of almost loosing the battle. To add insult to injury every engineer that has come to look at this wall shows all the clear evidence that the city's negligence caused the damage and that their noncooperation in dealing with the water that comes to us has made the progress almost impossible to complete on time.
It seems that if I had thousands to sue the city I could have won but I am even paying the builder in monthly installments. As I said from this unfair treatment by the city, I also want to start the process to emancipate from it. By the way, all the poor people's houses that have been taken were given almost for free to a big developer and the beautiful wooded area torn down to build luxury apartments and retail. Someone suggested to talk to our representative but we went through that at the beginning: since the mayor and council are very eager to see their city transformed, all of them are eager to get rid of the small old houses but are too greedy to at least use eminent domain and want people to loose all for free when they can.
You can email me at that address if you have any suggestion of how to deal with city injustice, because I read all the time about how people loose to evil banks, but nothing at all about evil cities. I was even surprised about the little coverage the poor Marietta man received (a couple of months ago) even though he was pushed to suicide by the city's constant singled out abuse on him. Cities seem to be able to get away with murder. Everybody talks about curbing government abuse and then it happens that they only focus on Federal (as is the case with POGO), but if you think that they have the power to tear down your perfectly structurally sound house arbitrarily based on an old retaining wall 20 ft away from it that all engineers have said is not even needed for the house, that should scare everybody that it could happen to you if your city sets an eye on your property. If you have the money to fight them, of course itnis a different story, but if you cannot afford a lawyer, they can be arbitrary and no one will do anything about their missapplication of laws and of ordinances. Please if you have any suggestions or a way to help, email me or you can call me at 404-444-9703, thanks.
LilianT LilianT
1 Response May 23, 2012

wow I'm going throw the same thing. I haven't found any helpeather. I'v talked to everyone I could think of trying to get this fixed. But they just make it harder on me. What can be done?
I did regrade my yard to redirect the rain water.That seemed to iratate them. Good Luck. and good luck to us all.