News 2 I-Team: Unmarked underground power line buries backyard dream

The power cables from this pole run down underground and through the yards of three homes in the Scott's Creek subdivision, in Mount Pleasant.

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — All the Fekete family wanted was to use their yard the way the dreamed and the pool in the back yard would make it a reality. However, an unmarked 23,000 volt underground power line zapped their dream and turned it into a nightmare .

In February, the Feketes broke ground on that pool. The pool company called 811, and the tech from Utiliquest came out and marked “no conflicts in the area of excavation,” according to Julie Fekete.  Except there was a 23,000 volt conflict right in the middle of what would be the deep end of their pool.

The excavator clipped the plastic pipe (conduit) housing the SCE&G line that brought the Fekete’s project to a screeching halt.

“He jumped off really quickly and started calling his bosses,” said Matt Fekete. “He was very lucky.”

That power line runs unmarked on the final drawings of the Scott’s Creek neighborhood from a pole adjacent to the neighborhood, underground through at least three yards.

“It’s sheer luck that they hit that conduit the way they did, at the angle they did, because that could have been catastrophic,” Matt Fekete remarked as he stared at the pipe at the bottom of what should be his pool.

Unable to get straight answers from any of the parties involved in putting that line there, or approving the permits, Julie Fekete reached out to the News 2 I-Team.

It turns out, SCE&G had a legally binding easement agreement with the Beach Company, which developed the Scott’s Creek neighborhood. That agreement referenced a drawing that showed where that power line runs, but the drawing is not part of the public record.

Despite this easement agreement being in place, and SCE&G having access to its own drawings, the Feketes say it took the utility company at least four trips to their home to determine what the power line was, and why it was there. In fact, they say SCE&G representatives told them at least twice that it was not supposed to be there, and even told them they would move the line so they could keep digging.

“And then the engineers and the right of way department showed up, and pulled out a much bigger map…they measured everything, and then said, ‘nope, it’s right where it’s supposed to be, and we’re not moving it,” said Julie Fekete.

Julie started researching everything she could regarding the property, the easement agreement, trying to figure out why if this easement exists, it doesn’t show up on the final plat for the neighborhood.

According to Mount Pleasant building regulations, the developer is responsible for filing the final plat. Those regulations also require that all easements be marked on that plat. Town officials say, there is no electrical easement in the backyard of the Fekete’s property. Despite that, the town repeatedly told the Feketes, and the I-Team that it is a “private matter.”

After pressing Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura about the enforcement of the regulations requiring all easements be marked, he conceded that something needed to be done.

“This is the law so we are exploring delivering citations to the original property owner. Of course this was over eight years ago so there may be limitations,” DeMoura said in an email.

SCE&G avoided our questions about why it took so long to identify its own equipment, and instead focused on the fact it had a legal easement in place, and pointed out that it offered to move the line. That offer came at an $18,000 price for the Feketes.

Beach Company would only say that it disclosed the easement to the builder (Pulte), and that Pulte sold it to the Feketes “subject to all easements of record”.

Pulte was unaware of the issue until we told them about what the family was dealing with. They immediately reached out to the Feketes, and as of Monday made an offer to pay to have the line moved.

 

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