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South Side Businessman Thinks City Trying To Flood Him Out

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A South Side businessman has accused the city of playing dirty tricks to try and pressure him to sell his land to make way for new development. He says he's got the mold, mildew and grimy mess in his basement to prove it.

CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker reports on the classic case of man versus the city of Chicago.

Edmund Scott has owned a tax consulting business for 35 years. It's the only property left near the corner of 115th Street and Michigan Avenue. The city has designated the land for a pharmacy that will complement a nearby grocery store and Scott's days there are numbered.

"If I wasn't a grown man, you'd see tears," Scott said.

It's not just leaving his longtime site that saddens Scott. He's most upset because he thinks the city is trying to force him out with water.

Scott showed how water is constantly leaking into his basement, leaving huge puddles on the floor.

"As you can see it's just flowing in and they won't do anything about it," Scott said. "If I didn't have this sewer drain here, I would be up to the ceiling."

The problem started in June, when a demolition crew tore down the building next door. That caused cracks in Scott's foundation, leading to mold, mildew and water damage.

Scott said he thinks there is a broken or leaking pipe under the ground where the building once stood. He thinks the city's water department should investigate.

He sent the city a certified letter asking the water department to look into the problem – meaning someone had to sign for the letter – so Scott said he's confident someone at the city got his complaint.

But a representative from the city's water department said they have no record of Scott's complaints.

Scott said he thinks the city is ignoring his pleas, because he wants more than the $105,000 the city has offered for his building.

"My thoughts are they're trying to condemn me out, by letting the water run there to destroy everything down there," Scott said.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) called Scott's claims a "conspiracy theory" and said, "that's not the case."

Beale claimed he didn't know about Scott's water problem and he promised to make sure the water department responds. But he said Scott still has to go.

"The community has been waiting for the development for a long time. You know we have a food desert. We're trying to get an Aldi's in here, we're trying to get CVS in here, a CVS Pharmacy, to address all these issues," Beale said. "When you have one property holding it up, that's a problem."

Late Tuesday afternoon, after phone calls from CBS 2, city crews inspected Scott's basement. On Wednesday, they're scheduled to fix the problem and stop the water from going into Scott's basement.

Scott said he'll now contact the demolition company and try and get them to pay for repairs to his building.

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