Carter County looks to resolve drainage complaints

John Thompson • Mar 13, 2012 at 9:16 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Drainage problems once again dominated the discussions during the monthly meeting of the Highway Committee of the Carter County Commission on Monday.

Several residents of Lincoln Heights Subdivision once again attended the meeting, but the discussion was about a different section of the community. Lincoln Heights is located off Broad Street Extension at the foot of Lynn Mountain and receives runoff from storms on the mountain.

Resident R.L. Hambrick told the committee that a former resident had a problem with water eroding his driveway, and as a result he had filled in the drainage channel running under the driveway with concrete. This created a dam that flooded the yards of surrounding neighbors.

Hambrick said he sympathized with the neighbor’s plight. He said the problem was because two short drainage tiles had been used under the driveway instead of one longer tile. The two had not been sealed, causing the tile to leak under the driveway and undermine the pavement.

The current property owner, Mandy Adkins, said she was unaware of the problem when she purchased it in December.

“What needs to be done is to dig up the section of the driveway and place one solid piece of pipe underneath,” Hambrick said. If the blockage was removed, he said the water would flow to a catch basin.

“The TVA has a plat that shows the water will drain all the way to the river if people will leave it alone,” Hambrick said.

He said some of the drainage ditches in front yards have been filled in by residents to make it easier to mow.

“Right, we have that problem all over the county,” Highway Committee Chairman Ernest “Gebe” Ritchie said.

The Highway Department cannot legally work on private property, but Ritchie said the developers of the subdivision had included a drainage easement to the county. Based on what he has seen of the Lincoln Heights easement and the surrounding deeds, he said “I think the county has the authority to go in there and clean out the ditches.”

The committee unanimously approved a motion to recommend correcting the problem in Lincoln Heights if the approximately $150 tile is purchased for the county.

The committee also heard from Harvey Tester about the continuing drainage problems in the Biltmore community near the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Hartley Road. The committee had previously heard from Tester about severe damage being caused to houses by the improper damage and the filling in of drainage ditches.

The committee had recently referred further communication with Tester to its lawyers after being informed Tester was considering litigation. Tester said he has not initiated a lawsuit, merely a letter of intent that the county would be sued if the problem was not corrected.

Committee member Charles Von Cannon made a motion to work with Tester to resolve the problem to his satisfaction.

Ritchie said neighbors contributed to the drainage problem by allowing the ditches on their property to be filled up.

The committee voted to take no action on a request made last month to close Ohio Street, a right-of-way that had been deeded to the county by the subdivision developer but had never been made into a road. The area is off Dave Buck Road in the Central community.

The motion to take no action came after property owners said their land would be landlocked without access through the county right of way. They said a similar request to close the road had been made in 2009 and had also been denied.

Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler suggested the undeveloped right-of-way could be placed on the county road list to make sure it remained open, but the committee felt the road list should not be made more complicated.

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