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Carter Highway Department once again hears of Lynn Valley drainage problems

John Thompson • Feb 7, 2019 at 8:59 PM

ELIZABETHTON — After going through a couple of months of rainy weather, one of Carter County’s most challenging neighborhood problems has returned. That problem is the ponding of water in the subdivision on the upper end of Lynn Valley.

Althought the neighborhood stands at the very foot of Lynn Mountain, with the Watauga River flowing nearby, these homes are built on the flattest terrain in the county. Most of the homes were built more than 30 years ago — before the existence of the Carter County Planning Commission. That meant the developers were not required to worry about the flow of rainwater through the neighborhoods. There were some drainage plans done by the developers, such as a long swale, but subsequent property owners have sometimes filled in such ditches.

The result is that rainwater does not flow to the nearby Watauga River. Instead, the water stands atop the ground until it is absorbed into the soil. Fortunately, the soil is good riverbottom dirt that does absorb the water.

It is a problem that the Planning Commission and Carter County Highway Department has dealt with several times over the years and conducted several studies. The problem came up again Thursday night when Karen Trent, who had recently bought a house on E.L Bowers Road addressed the Highway Committee about the drainage problem.

Committee Chairman Charlie Von Cannon said the Highway Department could not work on private property, so it will take a cooperative effort by property owners to solve the problem.

County Attorney Josh Hardin was also at the meeting and said there was a reluctance to make corrections, because each change in the terrain could cause damage to an adjacent property owner and more litigation. 

In other matters, Carter County Highway Superintendent Roger Colbaugh reported to the committee that his department spent $48,353 on snow removal during January. He said most of the removal was from higher elevations.

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