Documents incorrectly filed with county said unrepaired sinkhole was fixed years before collapse

Information forwarded to county appraiser
Posted at 10:38 PM, Jul 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 15:43:13-04

New questions are now coming to light about the safety of a Land O’ Lakes property where we first reported on Friday was the site of a previous sinkhole.

RELATED: Sinkhole swallows 2 homes in Land O' Lakes neighborhood; cleanup could take months

The construction company which filed records saying the problem had been remediated now admits they never fixed the actual sinkhole.

They said they didn't have to.

All they did was follow an engineer's instructions to stabilize the house, even though there was a confirmed sinkhole on the property.

And we discovered documents filed with Pasco County which indicated repairs had been made, which in fact had not.

When the ground opened up and homes crashed down in Land O' Lakes Friday, renter Zamira Rodriguez lost everything.

“What can you say? You wouldn't wish this on anyone, especially your neighbors,” said Rodriguez.

But engineers say former neighbors rejected a plan to fix a confirmed sinkhole at their home half-a-decade ago.

“What was originally recommended was not done and they did an alternate repair,” said Jose Busquets, a licensed engineer with Bracken Engineering.

A 2012 report from MCD Engineering called for $150,000 in repairs, including a process called compaction grouting.

“The only way to remediate a sinkhole is to compaction grout it. That's pumping concrete down in and that's to seal the top of the limestone,” said Drew Glasbrenner.

But the homeowner decided in 2014 to go with a much cheaper plan proposed by Basic Engineering, which merely stabilized the structure.

“The option that they chose, that they went out and found somebody to provide for them, did not address what was going on with the sinkhole. The pin piles did not fix the sinkhole in any fashion. And we see the result of that,” said Glasbrenner.

The contractor, Helicon Foundation Repair filed a document with the county saying they used compaction grout in the repair.

“If there was not compaction grout performed at the site, it should not be on that form,” said Glasbrenner.

A Helicon spokesperson says a former employee incorrectly filed the document, but he said the county should have caught the mistake.

That document went to the County Property Appraiser's Office, so they marked the sinkhole activity as stabilized.

The owners listed the home for sale a few months later as a "repaired sinkhole home" and when the previous owner sold it, their disclosure form said a sinkhole was discovered, and insurance claim was paid ... But not all the money was used to repair the damage.

“Things need to be looked at a little more carefully with regards to what remediation activities are required to get that sinkhole label taken off of it,” said Glasbrenner.

The second engineer tells me the sinkhole was so vast, no repair would have been able to fix it.

He says to fix it now would take an estimated 10,000 yards of grout at a cost of $3 million.

We spoke by phone to the former owner who didn't want to discuss what happened.

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