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Garage built over sewer line creates issue
Center Street sinkhole.jpg
McMinnville officials have approved negotiations with Center Street property owner David Franco to remove his garage after it was constructed over a sewer line and 20-foot easement.

A sinkhole on Center Street has exposed an easement issue between McMinnville Water and Sewer Department and a property owner.

The street in front of David Franco’s home collapsed in December 2017. Gravel was used to fill the sinkhole. A month later, in January 2018, another collapse occurred in his driveway, between the first sinkhole and the garage. That collapse was caused by a sewer line break which was repaired by city employees. 

 McMinnville Water and Sewer Department director Anthony Pelham says the garage was constructed over an existing sewer line.

 “There is a 20-foot permit easement that dissects the property diagonally between Center Street and Yankee Street,” said Pelham. “It represents the location of the sewer line itself with a 10-foot easement on either side of the line. Based on what we determined in the field, the sewer line is under the edge of where the existing garage is.”

While a building permit was issued, placement of the garage over an easement makes it an illegal structure and in violation of the department’s easement. Only moveable structures are allowed over easements in the event of a line break that needs to be repaired. 

Pelham recommended to members of the city’s Streets and Sanitation Committee that negotiations begin with Franco for the removal of the structure and expansion of the easement. 

“The garage was an illegal construction on top of a city easement, but I understand the problem,” said Pelham. “The greater issue for me, for long-term maintenance, is the 20-foot easement is insufficient for me to effect repairs if we had to go through there. I don’t know what the resolve is. I request permission to pursue negotiations on expanding the Water and Sewer Department’s easement and removal of the structure.” 

Committee members approved negotiations with Mr. Franco.