Flooded-out residents sue farmers By Karen White / Senior Times Writer March 12 2002 GUADALUPE — A Guadalupe church and several individual property owners have filed a civil suit seeking damages, alleging their property flooded on March 4 and 5, 2001, after a nearby farm company constructed a flood protection berm. They further allege the earthen berm constructed by leaseholders Freitas Bros. Farming west of the city limits was constructed in violation of Santa Barbara County grading regulations. After the Santa Maria River flooded the property on separate occasions in 1995 and 1997, Freitas constructed at 10-foot to 11-foot high earthen berm on the northern edge of the property near the Santa Maria River in an attempt to prevent future flooding, according to the suit. The suit says that flood waters from a heavy storm inundated the Guadalupe Apostolic Church at 893 Pioneer St. in Guadalupe. Allegedly, the berm caused flood waters to flow around the berm toward the structures along Pioneer Street at the edge of the city. Also named as plaintiffs in the suit, filed by San Luis Obispo attorney Greg A. Coates, are adjacent property owners on Pioneer Street: Eduardo Bautista, Felipe Jimenez, Ofelia Jimenez, Sarah L. Castillo, Sarah V. Castillo, Rafael Rico, Manuela Rico, Jose Rico, Raymond Leon and Maria Alvarez. The suit, charging negligence and private nuisance, seeks general, special, exemplary and punitive damages. The church alleges that individual members have been unable to attend their normal church services, impacting their use and enjoyment of their place of worship. Individual property owners are seeking the costs of repairing their properties. They also are seeking removal of the berms. The suit alleges that the Freitas company has refused, and continues to refuse, to remove the earthen berm located on the property. Santa Barbara County, the suit said, ordered corrections of the county grading ordinance which were not done. Freitas was fined $6,000 by the county on Sept. 13, 1999 as a result of failure to correct the violations, the suit alleges. Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has been assigned the case, with a management conference set on July 2. * Senior staff writer Karen White can be reached at (805) 739-2217 or by e-mail at kwhite@pulitzer.net. :nav Source: http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2002/03/12/news/export6249.txt

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