LIVINGSTON -- An 8-0 decision means that real estate transactions will change in Livingston Parish for homes that contain specific sewer implements.
R.C. Bubba Harris, of District 5, brought to the council's attention at the beginning of the summer an issue inside Serene Acres, located off Wax Road. Residents inside the subdivision had purchased homes with grinder pumps without prior knowledge. Those pumps continued to experience issues and increase in maintenance cost.
According to resident Eric Harrell, he has spent more than $20,000 on his particular grinder pump and its issues.
Harrell went on to say that engineer friends of his explained that the pumps were not large enough and did not possess the proper horsepower. Also, the feeding lines into and out of the pump system were too small by almost 50 percent.
The discussion split into two sections from there. Harrell petitioned that the council find a way to get him the inspection of the plans for his home, which was built in the 2000s, as he could not find a way to receive them from the parish.
The secondary track of the discussion was brought up by a real estate agent named Taryn Creekbaum, who lives in District 1. Creekbaum said that she took issue with the ordinance proposal because it exposes her as a real estate agent and asked for clarification on who was subject to penalty if a grinder pump was not disclosed.
Councilman Garry "Frog" Talbert read the ordinance, which said the seller and the agent would be held liable.
"I don't think my (state) license should be held accountable for a Livingston Parish ordinance," Creekbaum said.
Creekbaum suggested that the council go to the Realtor Association and have them change the disclosure forms and add a section under sewer.
Talbert asked parish council attorney Chris Moody if he believed realtors would be protected as long as they asked about grinder pumps and specifically noted that, and Moody agreed that it should be protective should legal action be taken — if the seller was not being clear.
Creekbaum came back to suggest she "had the answer" that the ordinance should be bound to the deed, not the agent, so that the seller and the title attorney should be held liable after they do their due diligence.
The plea fell flat after the unanimous vote. Councilman John Wascom (District 4) was absent.
While the ordinance committee did not meet Thursday, Harris said after the vote that they will continue to fight for a solution for Serene Acres and any other residents dealing with grinder pump issues.
Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse said that the ordinance committee should be focused on things that Walker enacted regarding grinder pumps.
Harrell said his engineering friends gave him several points:
- The grinder pumps themselves were fine, as far as pumps go, but the container and overall horsepower were too low considering the size of the homes.
- The sewer line feeding and exiting the pump was too small.
- (Conjecture) The lift station at the head of the subdivision did not have the proper power to move the amount of sewer being generated by the number of homes, causing backups back up the line.
Lift stations are used to move sewer for lines that aren't gravity-based, meaning the sewer moves through using pressure from the station as opposed to on its own.
Harrell produced the permit, issued by the parish, for the home site's construction which showed a "good-to-go" from a parish engineer on the project, despite the sewer implements not meeting proper specifications.
Harrell also said that he was unaware a grinder pump was even part of his home purchase — an issue that Harris is bringing up for introduction at the full council.
For specifications, Harris was unsure but got a place to start from another councilman.
As part of his initial foray into politics, parish councilman Tracy Girlinghouse (District 7) jumped into the Walker council in the early 2010s for a similar issue — no requirements on grinder pumps and their installation.
Girlinghouse suggested that the parish look into how Walker handles grinder pumps. City Attorney Bobby King provided the following:
Sec. 19-97. - Sewer pump system (grinder
pump) maintenance responsibility.
(1) It is the responsibility of the property owner with a sewer pump station (grinder pump) to properly operate the system according to the manufacturer's specifications and not to abuse or misuse the system.
(2) The following are abuse or misuse of the system:
- Allowing grease or oil to be put into the system.
- Allowing items which can cause damage to the pump to be put into the system including but not limited to glass, metal, seafood shells, eggshells, plastic or rubber objects, any sharp objects, any amounts of drain cleaner, such as Drano, any corrosive chemicals, clothing or materials used to make clothing and feminine hygiene products.
- If the failure to the system to perform properly is determined to be the result of failing to operate the system to the manufacture's specifications or abuse or misuse of the system by the property owner, then the property owner will be responsible for the cost of repair or replacement of any damage to the system.
(Ord. No. 05-2012-02, 5-14-12; Ord. No. 02-2014-02, 2-10-14)