Crews Dig on Private Property, Now Paying for Damages

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Some Beaverdale residents are upset after a contracting company dug on their property without being authorized.

The Omaha company Husker Underground was contracted by CenturyLink to install internet cables.

Shelley Kitsis has lived in this Beaverdale neighborhood for years, and says what happened on Monday was a first: she woke up to massive holes in her front yard.

“I felt so helpless, like I said yesterday. So discouraged, so frustrated. There is a huge hole in my yard," she said.

The Omaha company is responsible, as crews were contracted to lay internet cables on the east side of 40th Place. City documents permit the company to dig, but not such big holes. However, the crews were unaware of Des Moines' easement code in this neighborhood.

“In this street, with these neighbors, we were in the wrong. We assumed we had five to ten feet on the back of the curb. In Nebraska we always have at least five feet on the back of the sidewalks, in this particular circumstance we only had about 18 inches," said Joe Ward of Husker Underground.

On Tuesday, some upset neighbors wanted the company to pay for damages.

“We want this re-sodded. Please, we want this taken care of. Make it right," Kitsis said.

Husker Underground says it will pay to re-sod, and that their crews were just doing their job.

“It is required by law for us to dig up and expose the infrastructure, whether it's gas lines, water lines, sewer lines, power lines, so on and so forth," Ward said.

Kitsis says crews exposing the lines to keep the community safe was just as dangerous.

“If anyone fell in that four-foot hole, you're going to be responsible as a property owner if somebody gets hurt," she said.

Kitsis said she does not believe having a faster internet connection is worth this safety risk.

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