Developer faces ultimatum on fixing Mount Adams landslide

Judge: Shore up plans or I'll find you in contempt

CINCINNATI -- A judge gave a developer until noon Wednesday to shore up its plan to fix a Mount Adams hillside that slipped two weeks ago.

Common Pleas Judge Tom Heekin also ordered Metropolitan Design and Development to show it has taken steps toward hiring a contractor by the same deadline.

If Metropolitan doesn't follow the order, Heekin wrote he'd find the company in contempt.

Tuesday's ultimatum was the latest step in a legal showdown between Metropolitan and the city of Cincinnati over a failed retaining wall and landslide that forced firefighters to evacuate two homes early the morning of May 3. The wall pushed into new townhomes at 402 and 404 Baum St. as it failed, damaging their first and second floors.

 

After reviewing Metropolitan's 2016 and 2017 financial statements, Heekin determined the company had necessary financing to complete the emergency repairs. An engineer has to sign off on the repair plan, Heekin wrote in his order Tuesday. And the plan has to include how much the work will cost.

Since the initial landslide, city buildings and inspections director Art Dahlberg said the hillside has continued to shift and destabilize -- causing several smaller slides in the process.

A sewer line running between Baum and Oregon streets is now pinched, Metropolitan Sewer District spokeswoman Deb Leonard said. Repairs cannot begin until the hillside is stabilized. For now, a temporary, above-ground pipe carries waste away.

Neighbors on Oregon, uphill from Baum, say they've spent nearly two weeks worried about what might come next.

"Each day it gets a little worse," Kyle Gilligan said. "The funny thing is, we wake up each morning, look outside, and more has fallen down."

The city's complaint, filed last week, alleged Metropolitan didn't have a permit for a retaining wall under construction behind 406 Baum St., which Dahlberg called the epicenter of the landslide. A wall permit issued to Metropolitan only covered a much smaller wall, planned to go between the townhomes 404 and 406 Baum St. -- not the larger hillside retaining wall.

 

Metropolitan submitted a stabilization plan to Dahlberg's department ahead of a noon deadline Friday, but did not authorize its implementation. The company wrote "by submitting this plan for the purposes of complying with the terms of your order Metropolitan does not accept liability for causing nor contributing to the hill slide," according to a memo from City Manager Harry Black.

"This response does not satisfy the order's issues, therefore the city has moved forward with emergency legal action," Black wrote.

Tuesday's court order gives Gilligan some peace of mind.

"I'm glad this is happening so we can fall asleep and not worry every morning and see if our house is still intact," he said.

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