City to sue DOT for sinkhole damages

  • Friday, July 4, 2014

Georgetown City Hall

The City of Georgetown has plans to file a lawsuit against SCDOT and other parties after sinkhole damage has emerged in City Hall and Fire Station 1, officials announced this week.

Mayor Jack Scoville said the city was “compelled” to file the suit after noticing the damage.

“The walls of the City Hall are supported on pilings. There’s been no subsidence of any of the support structures, but in the foyer area we’ve noticed some settling since the pumping of the water and some of the piles around the edges of the foyer have broken off. It appears the foyer area may have dropped half an inch or so,” he said.

Mayor Scoville said the city fire station located across the street from City Hall has also shown damage.

The lawsuit will be filed against the contractor, engineering company and SCDOT “to recover damages to be determined by analysis,” he said.

“This was [DOT’s] project. We contributed money to it but we didn’t have any supervisory role in the project.”

He said for now with the extent of the damage it’s unclear if the buildings will need to be rebuilt, or just repaired.

The course of action will determine the dollar amount of compensation the City will seek in the suit – either the value of the property, if rebuilding, or the cost of repairs if the properties are repairable.

The mayor said he expects the case to be filed in state court, although it has not been filed yet.

The lawsuit will be one of several lawsuits filed by private landowners in 2011 after several large sinkholes destroyed private businesses and homes in the area.

The private lawsuits were filed against the same defendants, claiming the sinkholes were caused by the SCDOT-led runoff tank drainage project taking place next to City Hall.

The cases are still pending.

In April of this year, the city commissioned a study of City Hall and the fire station to determine if there is any sinkhole damage to the buildings.

GS2, a geotechnical engineering firm, was contracted to perform the testing and Kyzer and Timmerman, a structural engineering firm, analyzed the data and produced a report.

The mayor confirmed the city has received that report recently, but declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.

In the meantime, Scoville said the buildings are safe for public access and use.

“It’s safe but we’re monitoring it very carefully and of course will take steps if necessary. We haven’t detected anything to cause us any immediate alarm,” he said.

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