story updated 4:45 a.m.
HILL COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – As a Hill County community watches and waits for a luxury vacation home to collapse into Lake Whitney, many are asking why the home was built in an unstable location to begin with.
The Hill County government does not require building permits in unincorporated areas except for septic systems.
White Bluff – the planned community where the home sits – is in an unincorporated area.
Hill County Chief Deputy Mark Wilson got a call back in February about the chalk-like rock eroding away into Lake Whitney, eating away at the property on Overlook Court.
“It could go at any time. It could go tonight. We just don’t know,” said Wilson.
The Hill County Sheriff’s Office says this is the only home in jeopardy at this time; though the Army Corps of Engineers is keeping an eye on other nearby properties.
The shoreline 70 feet below is not walkable, and this is not a busy boating area, deputies say, but the area is roped off, nonetheless.
“When it falls, the Corps of Engineers will be in contact with the owners about the cleanup. They’ll have to start the process of cleaning it up in the lake,” Wilson said.
Wilson says erosion was first detected last year. The homeowners moved out weeks before the ground began to collapse.
Rain in the forecast this week could accelerate the process.
“Deputies told me there are cracks around the house up to two to three feet wide. If we get rain, I’m sure it is going to soak in pretty quick,” Wilson said.
The 4,000 square foot home, located in a high-end neighborhood on the north side of the lake, is expected to completely fall into the lake within days, if not hours.
Officials with the Sheriff’s Department say a large fault line appeared behind the house months ago, as the ground underneath the structure began falling down the cliff and into the lake.
Sheriff’s deputies say there is no public safety issue since there is only water below the house.
According to the sheriff’s department and neighbors, the homeowners are from Florida and only use the house part-time. Once it falls into the lake, though, it will be a full-time cleanup that becomes the their responsibility.
As it stands, sheriff’s deputies don’t think other houses around the falling property are at risk, but they’re keeping a close eye just in case.
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