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The owner of Green Tree Estates shut off the water to the mobile homes on Nov. 15. Several homeowners have now paid to connect to city water, including the owner of the original water well. 

The man who shut off a water well — and the running water to more than a dozen families in Green Tree Estates, triggering a public health emergency — has applied to bring city water to his own home.

Assistant City Manager Mario Canizares updated Denton City Council members on the city’s progress addressing the water emergency during a work session Tuesday afternoon. He said four households have passed initial inspections and paid the tap fees so far. Several other families have also passed initial inspections and still have a few weeks to pay the $6,938 fee to tap into city water, he said.

Canizares didn’t name the water well owner in his update but told council members that one individual not affected by the crisis had paid the tap fee and that the individual was entitled to tap into the city’s water supply.

Both council members Gerard Hudspeth and Keely Briggs pushed to discuss the matter openly, at which point City Manager Todd Hileman confirmed that well owner Don Roddy had paid the fee for his home. But he had not applied for water meters for the two mobile homes that he still rents out at Green Tree.

Roddy could not be reached for immediate comment Tuesday afternoon.

Canizares clarified that one of Roddy’s renters, Alfredo Contreras and his family, have already paid the tap fee to hook up to city water. The family bought an adjacent lot to the home they rent from Roddy.

But, Canizares said, eight other homeowners have not taken the steps to connect. The city has been delivering water to all the homes since November, but will stop those deliveries on July 31. After that, the homes will be without water and are likely to be condemned.

Green Tree resident Elba Hernandez reminded city officials that back in November, many residents, including those who were homeowners, felt that they were all expected to see their homes condemned.

“It didn’t turn out like that,” Hernandez said in Spanish.

Instead, they worked to follow all the steps the city required of them to hook up their water, including the additional pressures from the economic downturn triggered by the pandemic. The last steps are up to the city and the plumber who will work with them, she said.

“We hope that the work will be done in a clean, safe way,” she added.

The Contreras family home happens to be closest to the city property where a bank of water meters will be installed for Green Tree homeowners. The homeowners are talking with a licensed plumber who should be able to help them lay the water lines to meet the city at the meter bank.

Hudspeth said he was concerned that the homeowners further inside the development may have trouble with the easements, noting that Roddy and perhaps the Contreras family could be the only ones that hook up to city water after Roddy shut down his water well.

The Green Tree residents worked with local advocates, including the League of United Latin American Citizens and Movimiento Cosecha, to research their property rights. Little had been recorded, residents said, except one document showing that homeowners in the mobile home park had the right to use the road.

Canizares said the city staff will be back out to the neighborhood this week to start the work of installing the meter bank.

Council members agreed to stick to the original timeline, which allows the public emergency to expire on July 31.

The council is scheduled to hear another update on the progress of hooking up the neighborhood in about a month.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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