Dirt apparently dumped over tree debris

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Chris Jones of Maynord Landscaping delivers a load of dirt to fill a hole in Lisa Fairchild’s back yard Monday while Corey Kuck, left throws a shovel out of the way. (Meredith Spencer The Vicksburg Post)

[9/28/04]Vicksburg homeowner Lisa Fairchild’s troubles run pretty deep 15-feet-deep and 20-feet-wide, to be exact.

Fairchild’s headache began when she noticed a small hole in the back yard of her Woodstock Place home she’s owned for four years. She called Maynord Landscaping Inc. to fill it in. And that’s when the depth of the problem was discovered.

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Workers realized tree stumps and branches had apparently been bunched in an area and had rotted away in the years since being covered by soil.

“You buy a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and you don’t expect your back yard to cave in,” Fairchild said. “It probably goes through everyone’s back yard.

Woodstock Place is part of the Audubon Hills subdivision developed in 1980. Most of the homes in that area sell for between $250,000 and $400,000.

The neighborhood was developed by Mike Chaney in 1980 and annexed in to City of Vicksburg in 1990.

“All the streets and everything was built to city specifications although it was in the county,” said Chaney, who also represents Warren and Issaquena counties in the state Senate. “There are no fill holes anywhere out there.”

Chaney, who laid out all the streets and utilities, sold the lots, but did not construct any of the homes in that neighborhood. He said that if any debris was used as backfill in any of the yards, it would have been a builder.

Because the lots were sold before construction, the homes in Audubon Hills were built by a variety of local contractors.

Dudley Maynord, who co-owns the landscaping business with his wife, Marcia, said that over time the buried stumps and trees from clearing the land broke down and created a sink hole. He said it is becoming a more frequent problem they are called in to fix in the Vicksburg area.

“Whoever did that had to know that it would cause serious problems years down the road. It was just the cheapest way to get rid of the debris,” Maynord said.

Maynord and his staff have been working on filling the hole with sand and dirt for a week and expect to be finished Thursday. They are also installing a pipe drain to trap water in hopes of eliminating the problem.

Fairchild’s neighbor, Carol Bonnelli at 208 Woodstock Place, said workers dug up a tree from her back yard when installing a swimming pool. She said other problems with the lot and the house led her to sue the builder.

“I’ve had a whole slew of problems at my house,” Bonnelli said.

Bonnelli said she won her lawsuit, but that it didn’t cover the cost of all repairs, including new drainage in her back yard similar to the work going on in Fairchild’s yard.

It’s a bad situation, but could have been worse.

Fairchild lives with her husband, Norman Connell, and two daughters, ages 3 and 4, who frequently play in the back yard near where the hole developed.

“My kids could have fallen in that hole,” she said. “It was ready to fall in,” she said

Fairchild said she doesn’t know how much the repairs to her yard will cost and doesn’t plan to take legal action against the developer, but wants people to be aware of the problems that can occur.

“People should know about this and should take a look at their property,” she said. “It never crosses your mind that someone would do something like that.”