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'Extremely unacceptable:' Billings residents upset about property damages from TDS Fiber construction

Construction Damages
Posted at 5:55 PM, Oct 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-11 12:22:20-04

Residents from a neighborhood in the Billings Heights are upset about damages caused in their yards due to construction contracted by TDS Fiber.

The construction leaves massive holes in front lawns of many in the area. These holes are where the Wisconsin-based company will lay brand new fiber optic internet cables underground.

Heights resident Kristi Miller, who lives on Cortez Avenue, said the addition of another high-speed internet service will be great for her community, but that she is frustrated with how the process began.

"I'm all for it. I like capitalism. I like competition," Miller said. "What I'm not happy about is the lack of respect these construction crews have had on our property."

Miller said she was not made aware that the construction was set to begin, so when she walked outside of her doors on Monday, she was shocked.

"I was left with a mess in my yard and possibly a broken sprinkler line," Miller said. "I won't know until I dig it out myself."

Her primary concern, besides the damages, is the lack of notification that she received.

"We weren't given any notification, and I will say our neighbors saw the walking people," Miller said. "All they did was hang door tags and we never got a door tag."

Miller said the lack of communication has been frustrating and that the damages left on her property seem to be happening all over Billings. A Facebook post on a community page generated dozens of comments of people experiencing their own damages, with some claiming they have gone unfixed for months.

"You treat others how you want to be treated and this is not it," Miller said.

Facebook thread

TDS Fiber Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Drew Petersen said that their company is building in just under 100 communities around the country, and he understands Miller's concerns.

"We go to great lengths to communicate with our customers," Petersen said. "I one hundred percent get it. We're always trying to do our best to leave the area better than we found it from a restoration perspective."

Petersen said that the construction process can be a headache for those in the area, but their product will be great addition to the community.

"Once we're done installing, we will have added houses all over the city with high-speed internet and just another option for the consumer," Petersen said. "So, I think it's important for people to remember that this will lead to a positive."

TDS Fiber did receive the city's approval for construction, and Petersen said they are operating within their easement rights, even when they are on the property of a homeowner.

Heights Neighborhood damages

"I think it's good for people to remember that just because we are on their property, we have easement rights there where utility lines run as long as the city approves it," Petersen said. "We made sure we had the 'OK' from everyone we needed in the community before we began."

Still, Miller is not satisfied with how this project has begun.

“When you come onto people’s property, even when you have an easement right for utility runs, you still need to be respective of the homeowner," Miller said. "I’m extremely upset, and in the construction world I find this unacceptable."