A homeowner in Albuquerque, New Mexico is suing the city over claims that its mistake, a mistake that it fully admits to, has ruined his life.
Johnny Robinson, a contractor, began renovations on his home after his blueprints were approved by the city in 2008. Robinson mapped out plans for his dream home and went through all the necessary steps to get approval for construction. Once the city gave him the go-ahead, Robinson began work on the home he lived in with his son, expanding it from 1,600 to 5,400 square feet.
“I know what I’m doing in terms of building it, but with all the paperwork and stuff, I relied on the city to make sure everything I was doing was right,” said Robinson to Albuquerque’s KRQE News. “I made sure, I was down there all the time, asking questions.”
In addition to the necessary paperwork that was approved, Robinson even got written permission, as advised by city officials, from his next-door neighbor to have the home extend closer to the neighbor's property line.
By 2011, construction was underway, and the final permit was granted that April. By October, Robinson had already put nearly $20,000 into the renovations, and just as things were coming together, the city put a halt to everything.
“Right before I put the shingles on, they came and red-tagged me and told me to stop work,” said Robinson.
City officials cited Robinson for apparently breaking city code that says a house must be within 15 feet of the property line separating it from the next house over, and Robinson’s house was now twithin only hree feet. Even though Robinson had already had his plans approved and got written permission from the neighbor, the city still handed him a citation and wouldn’t allow him to continue building.
Robinson says that now, for over two years, he has been living in a construction zone in unsafe conditions with his son, and the city refuses to budge. To make matters worse, the city takes full responsibility for approving the plans and completely overlooking the property line issue in the first place, but it still refuses to change its stance. It even says that, despite its mistake's being the cause, Robinson has to pay the fines that come along with the citation.
“I don’t see how the city can allow me to live like this. They made the mistake. I didn’t make the mistake,” said Robinson. “I’m living in one room in my house, and that’s like being in jail.”
Today, there is a large hole in Robinson’s roof, no insulation, and excessive water damage in the home due to the conditions of the unfinished house. Now, Robinson is suing the city, and he hopes to be able to make it pay up for its mistake so he can move forward with his life.