Who’s responsible to fix it when a sinkhole appears in your yard?

Local News

POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (WTVO) – One Poplar Grove woman said she is tiptoeing around her yard after a large hole opened up in the ground and has been growing in size for the past week.

Kelli Cipolla said a hole in her yard has been growing by the day, causing soft spots in areas of her lawn. She said she doesn’t trust the safety of her lawn with her kids and dogs in the yard.

“Keeping my kids and animals safe, that’s what I worry about,” Cipolla said.

Cipolla said she worries the hole is “just going to keep sinking.”

Dr. Megan Brown, an assistant geology professor at Northern Illinois University, spoke to Eyewitness News about how to identify if a growth like this is a sinkhole.

“Look at the sinkhole itself. Can you see the bottom? Can you see the sides? [Look at] the proximity that it has to utilities, and if there has been a water main that either broke or is leaking,” Brown said.

After looking at photos of the hole in Cipolla’s yard, Brown said Cipolla is right to worry. Brown said people “should always be careful around” sinkholes, no matter their cause.

“Whether it’s a natural[ly] occurring sinkhole or something that was caused by human activity, you want to be careful if you’re approaching it,” Brown said. “Don’t get too close to it, because, of course, it can be unstable ground.”

Cipolla said despite calling the Public Works Department and the village president, she has not received help.

“I contacted the president, and he said, ‘I talked to my public worker guys and it’s not our problem’,” Cipolla said.

Eric Miller, public works chairman for the village of Poplar Grove, confirmed that the hole in Cipolla’s yard is a sinkhole by its dimensions.

Miller said while the village “is always concerned with the safety of its residents,” their abilities are limited in matters of private property.

“We can’t spend public funds to fix a private matter on private property,” Miller said. “That just wouldn’t be a proper use of public funding.”

Now, Cipolla said she isn’t sure what to do, but she wants the sinkhole fixed correctly the first time.

“I want it taken care of the right way, because if I do it the wrong way, in the next couple of years it could happen again,” Cipolla said.

Miller told Eyewitness News that Cipolla will be reimbursed if she can prove that the Village is responsible for the sinkhole.

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