Power plant expansion sparks controversy over Denton home

- A Denton man with cerebral palsy is being moved out by the city to make way for a new power station. The city is giving him another home, but the woman who used to own it said she’s a victim too.

The original owner of the house on Bonnie Brae Street said she was forced to sell it after Denton Municipal Electric put in a new high voltage power line and widened the easement, which included part of the garage.

Linda Roth said she was never given the option to just remove the garage and was only told she’d have to sell or the city would take the home by eminent domain. She sold it for $137,000.

She wasn’t living in the house, but grew up there, raised her children there and earned rental income from it.

"I'm unhappy I didn't get any options," Roth said.

Enter Joe Rivas. He was told as a child he would not live past age 18 and would never go to school. He’s now 48 years old, has a master’s degree, writes children’s books and teaches a college psychology class online.

“I’m a very determined individual,” he said.

He’s also being forced out of his home because of Denton Municipal Electric expansions.  And it just so happens that the house Roth previously owned is the house DME’s relocation specialists found for him.

DME is tasked with helping Rivas relocate by state and federal law. So the home’s garage was removed and modifications were made to accommodate his specific needs because of the cerebral palsy.

Rivas said he’s sympathetic to Roth, but after years of being in apartments, this is a dream come true.

"It's a really good opportunity for me,” Rivas said.

At least one city council member is now unhappy with the way the city has handled the process. Councilwoman Keely Briggs wants the rest of the council to reconsider the decision to give Rivas the home.

The council will vote again on Tuesday, but it is unlikely the decision will change given the $300,000 the city has already spent to buy and remodel the house.

Rivas also has support from the community.

“I want him to know we had about 80 more emails this morning in support of Joe. He has a lot of friends in the community and a lot of support,” Briggs said.


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