RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - A Rio Rancho family says the city is making them pay for damage to their property that the family claims was caused by the city's own road work.
The allegations came after an intense storm last month funneled water into the family's property. The homeowner, Paul Miller, blames the city for slanting his local gravel road the wrong way which made water seep into his home.
Miller filed a claim last month, but the city's insurance denied it.
“It was disappointing,” Miller said about the letter he received from the city of Rio Rancho’s insurance adjusters. “It just seems like they're going to try to back their way out of it."
Miller said the city’s work in adding ground asphalt to the dirt-based Monterrey Road twice since 2007 has changed how water drains off of it.
Miller said after the storm, water rushed on his property, knocked down a retaining wall, flooded his garage and destroyed his front yard.
“The road used to sit a lot lower than my lot, my property, and now you can see how it's kind of even,” said Miller.
Since the flood, city crews have cut a deeper ditch on the side of the road where the Miller’s property sits.
According to the letter Miller received with the city's insurance denied his claim, adjusters say that they could not verify that any ground-up asphalt was added to the road before January 2013.
Miller says there is evidence to prove otherwise, pointing to two photos compared the road in 2006 and 2007.
“There's clear evidence that this was added in 2007, even just by pulling Google photos,” said Miller.
A photo taken by Miller in 2006 shows the dirt road in front of the property. But a Google Street View camera caught a different image in 2007, showing a black rocked road.
“Shows that it was a fresh coating because it's pretty black in the photo,” said Miller.
Miller says he has the money to clean up the damage and has already started work to fix and mitigate any more flooding. But he says he shouldn't be stuck with the entire bill, which is already costing around $6,000.
“It's not like I am trying to get something for free out of them because I can fix this myself,” said Miller. “We're asking them to pay a portion of the damage costs.”
Miller says he's still in talks with insurance adjusters about photos and other evidence, but they haven't promised they will reopen the claim. The adjusters told the family their next course of action would likely have to be filing a lawsuit. The Millers say they haven’t decided yet whether or not they’ll do that.
Rio Rancho city officials said Saturday they don't comment on any pending insurance claims
or decisions. The insurance adjusters, Carl Warren & Company of Rio Rancho, did not return calls Saturday.
We asked the city of Rio Rancho whether or not there could have been more done to prevent this situation from happening. The city provided this statement:
Those residents/property owners who have infrastructure such as paved roads, drainage, water/sewer connections, etc. had this work done by developers/builders and the cost of this work was paid for by residents/property owners in the purchase price of their homes/properties.
If residents/property owners who choose to live in area that was not built out by a developer/builder with infrastructure such as paved roads, drainage, water/sewer connections, etc., and want these amenities after the fact, a Special Assessment District (SAD) is an option.
A SAD ensures that residents/properties owners pay for their infrastructure such as paved roads, drainage, water/sewer connections, etc., and that one group of residents/property owners does not have these costs subsidized by taxpayers as a whole.
The city is reimbursed for the cost of the SAD improvements by the property owners directly benefiting from the improvements. Assessment payments made by property owners to the city are used to pay for bonds issued for the improvement work and associated issuance costs. The city conducts SADs in accordance with state law.
Using the Petition Method, the city may initiate a Special Assessment District if the owners of two-thirds of the benefiting properties petition the city requesting a district to construct improvements and assess the costs of improvements.
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