City officials are hoping to discover in about a week what is causing the slipping and cracking in several homes on Sunset Drive in the Heather Glen subdivision.

Community development director Scott Carter said an engineering firm is planning to do some drilling this month in hopes of learning what is causing the soil movement in the area."We simply don't know what's happening there," Carter said, explaining stabilization can't be undertaken until the cause is found.

Three homeowners whose properties have been damaged by the sliding ground want Layton to buy them out rather than spend money trying to stop the movement.

The three presented a letter to the Layton City Council on Thursday, blaming the city for their problems and warning that inaction could risk lives.

The letter also said that while their proposal will cost the city, the amount would not total the financial cost to affected homeowners.

"I just missed my first mortgage payment. I don't know what the future holds," said Shane Cordingley.

Cordingley and his family had to abandon their home in mid-April when his house was declared unsafe for occupancy. Slippage of the ground beneath the structure, which sits on a hillside, had caused major structural damage.

His east neighbor Gavin Kerby and west neighbor Kevin Hancock have also found evidence of shifting.

The letter from the three homeowners claims that the area on which the houses sit was designated as "land slide area 442" in a Davis County study and that the same area slid five years ago.

The letter suggested that the fill dirt on which homes were built was not properly compacted and that past geotechnical reports for the area cannot be found.

Cordingley also questioned whether the city was told by a geotechnical engineer that the area was unsafe to build on.

"We've appreciated everything that the city has done for use," he said. But added it's tough to pay rent where his family is living now, plus a mortgage on a home that's not usable.

Insurance companies don't cover such slippage.

Mayor Jerry Stevenson said it would be difficult to comment on the homeowners' request until results of further monitoring by engineers are known.

Carter said the state's emergency management officials are pursuing possible state and federal money.

But City Manager Alex Jensen said a buyout "could set a dangerous precedent" when the city claims it is not negligent.