Homeowner: Who’s responsible for pipe causing massive sinkholes?

SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — There’s a growing problem in one man’s backyard in Smithfield — sinkholes are popping up everywhere.

In 2007, Tarmo Magi bought what he though was a slice of heaven on King’s Point Avenue.

“This is a beautiful place to live in Virginia,” Smithfield resident Tarmo Magi said. “That dream is literally being eroded and it’s disappearing.”

He owns more than two acres of land, now littered with orange cones marking holes.

“It is extremely frustrating,” Magi said. “It is difficult for a homeowner because there is so much ground being lost.”

The root of the problem is a pipe that runs across his property. It was put in by a developer and used by the neighborhood for drainage, but now cracks and holes all along it are causing massive sinkholes. They’ve popped up across Magi’s land in all shapes and sizes, including one more than six feet wide.

“There are a number of different holes starting all along this pipe,” Magi said. “The big concern is that a kid could come across this and put his foot in there and trips”

The family is forced to constantly shovel in sand and rocks to keep the holes filled, but it’s always just a temporary fix. “We tried to put in the mixed dirt with the gravel, but it keeps disappearing,” Magi said.

And to make matters worse, Magi can’t find who maintains the pipe. “I guess if it isn’t Isle of Wight County who is it?” he asked.

The county says the pipe isn’t theirs. County officials told 10 On Your Side, in many cases, ownership would be given to the county, but that never happened in Magi’s case.

“I’ve been waiting a couple of years for someone to evaluate it and decide what’s going on,” Magi said. “We need someone to take some responsibility for it.”

Right now, the responsibility rests on Magi’s shoulders. “If I had to maintain this or do something with it, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars,” he said.

And that means Magi can only continue to see his dream slowly washed away. “It’s not fair at all,” Magi said.

County officials did tell 10 On Your Side they are looking at their policies and procedures to figure out how to point homeowners in the right direction or give them some relief. They just don’t know how that can be done yet.

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