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GLENDALE : City Feud Stalls Home Upgrade of Electricity

November 23, 1994|STEVE RYFLE

He's not poor. He's not hungry. In fact, Logan Hubbard of Glendale recently added two new bedrooms and a modern kitchen to his stately Mountain Street home, and the turkey he and his family will eat this Thanksgiving will be catered.

But that's only because the Hubbards' new oven doesn't work. Neither do the central air-conditioning and heating and other appliances, due to an ongoing dispute with the city and the next-door neighbor that has blocked Hubbard from upgrading the home's electrical system to 220 volts. Now, the family says, its holidays will be colder, and a bit less merry than usual.

"We might have to wear parkas at the dining table. It's embarrassing, because we're having our relatives over for Thanksgiving," said Hubbard, who is self-employed in telecommunications.

While Hubbard admits that may be an exaggeration, he said that he, his wife and the family's three children have actually been wearing ski clothes to bed during the recent spate of chilly nights. What's more, they are actually breaking the law by sleeping in their own new bedrooms because the city won't grant them a permit to occupy the new sections of the house until the electrical system is upgraded.

Despite the fact that the 900-square-foot addition passed muster with the city's building department, inspectors discovered only after the construction was finished earlier this year that the city does not have a written easement allowing it to dig up the home's existing power line.

That line runs underneath the back yard of a home owned by Gar Wilson, Hubbard's friend and next-door neighbor. To increase the home's voltage supply, a higher-capacity cable must be installed.

"It's a problem that creeps up from time to time," said Bill Hall, the city's electrical services administrator. "There's several older developments in town where the lot lines and easements weren't well-defined when they were originally built, and where we don't have an easement we either have to get one or work around it."

But Wilson said he previously was taken advantage of when he granted an easement over a property he owned in another city, and he is adamant about not allowing his property rights to be infringed upon again.

"My view simply is this is an inappropriate, undesirable, invasive way for the city to provide a service to somebody," Wilson said. "They should not do it by carving up other people's yards. This is planning of the lowest order."

Hubbard has hired an attorney to aid him in his dealings with the city, and says he has spent about $5,000 in legal fees, with still no result.

He said he has two options: to construct an underground connection between his home and a power station across the street, which he estimates would cost more than $10,000 and require the tearing-up of his sloping front yard, or to sue his neighbor. Each of those options he finds unpalatable, he said.

"On top of all this, my property taxes have gone up because of the addition. We're losing every way possible," Hubbard said.

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