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Carrollton Homeowners Watch As Backyards Wash Away

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CARROLLTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Homeowners in northwest Carrollton are worried their back yards are giving way.

“After those rains it’s washing away more and more dirt,” said Milan Hamrla, who lives in the 1300 Block of Barclay Drive.

His problem is a retaining wall that buckled and forced much of his back yard to slide downhill.

“We’ve got two kids,” he says of himself and wife, Petra. “Most of the people have kids and they’d like to enjoy the back yard.”

Hamrla had been in his home only two years before the retaining wall failed and the back yard was swallowed by the Dudley Branch creek bed below.

Photos show a properly formed retaining wall and back yard when he moved in. Today, his back yard is mostly gone.

“We’re scared the kids are going to fall down and –it’s dangerous, it’s not safe.”

The city’s director of engineering, Cesar Molina, told CBS 11 News the problem is a “slope failure” and the retaining wall is on private property.

Under the state constitution, he says, public funds can’t be used to benefit a private owner. But other residents say this same retaining wall has failed at other places before, and on those occasions the city did get involved using another approach.

“The city came in and bought the easement from the homeowners and made repairs to the wall,” said Michael Brewer, who lives just up the street. “(The city) did this before any of these seven houses currently affected were ever built.”

Hamrla had just built a privacy fence when the ground gave way during heavy rains, like one in 2009. Now he says his home has lost tens of thousands of dollars in value.

And the worst may be yet to come when the current drought finally ends.

“Every time it rains we are scared we’re going to lose more dirt and it will go towards our house.”

Neighbors here say a new City Council has just been sworn in, which meets again Tuesday night. The homeowners hope eventually the city will take a more sympathetic look at the situation.

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