Chattanooga sued over large sinkhole - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga sued over large sinkhole

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The City of Chattanooga faces a federal lawsuit to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. SunTrust Bank and a land owner say the city is responsible for a large sinkhole that opened up in the parking lot at the bank's St. Elmo branch.

"Yeah, it's a hazard. It's a hazard," says bank customer Pauline King.

Boards and warning signs surround the sinkhole that has been a fixture in the St. Elmo SunTrust parking lot since March 16th of last year.

"I don't even go over there for safety reasons," says customer Randolph Yancey. "It says 'stay away' so that's what I do."

Customers like Yancey say it has been a bit of an inconvenience with no access to the outside ATM.

"Oh yeah, it's an inconvenience because I wouldn't have went in the bank today if the ATM was open," says King.

SunTrust Bank and property owner 'National Retail Properties' have now filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Chattanooga. It states: "The sinkhole was caused by erosion taking place as a result of the channeling of stormwater." It says a city engineer inspection revealed part of a stormwater wall underneath the bank collapsed. The bank says that was due to "Chattanooga's refusal and failure" to properly repair and maintain the drainage system. It says the cost to repair it would be "in excess of $500,000."

"If it's the city's fault, then I think they should take care of it. Either way, the bank shouldn't have let it stay there like that, that long," says King.

Representatives for SunTrust and National Retail will not comment further about the suit, but Chattanooga City Attorney Wade Hinton released a statement to Channel 3, saying in part: "Our engineering team and other experts have looked into the sinkhole and believe that this is not the city's responsibility. Nonetheless, we stand ready to assist the property owner and SunTrust through the permitting process so they can make these repairs and keep their employees and customers safe."

In the meantime, the land owner says the hole diminishes the value of the property. A rep says the branch will be closing April 11th but the closure is "unrelated" to the sinkhole issue.

"It's going to be an inconvenience because you'll have to travel a little bit further to get business done," says Yancey.

The next closet branch is Lookout Mountain Valley.

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