Leader Blues

Monday, February 05, 2007

TOP STORY >>Council to settle drainage dispute

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council has warded off a lawsuit by promising a disgruntled developer that a committee of aldermen and engineers will attempt to solve a flood problem in his subdivision.

“There’s enough blame to go all around,” Mayor Tommy Swaim said Thursday, “but I don’t think the city should have to pay the entire bill.”

At issue is a drainage problem between the Heritage Park subdivision and the new Graham Settlement subdivision.
Wally Nixon, the developer of Graham Settlement, said this is something the city should remedy. “I have buyers for the lots, but not with that ditch there,” he said.

Apparently what happened, according to the mayor and city’s public works director, is that the city went through the drainage ditch between the subdivisions and cleaned out the underbrush and the dumped leaves. This left an unsightly ditch that overflows and sends water onto the Graham Settlement lots, which are now being built.

The mayor said that the planning commission failed to make the developer fix the drainage problem at the beginning. Initially, the commission had wanted Nixon to run about 600 to 700 feet worth of pipe through the ditch to pump the water out of the area. Nixon, and his engineer, Tommy Bond, got the commission to compromise and offered to build a concrete swell at a bend in the ditch, but that apparently has not done the job.

“It is a design flaw that should have been corrected when the developer approached the commission,” the mayor said. “Over the years, we have spent about $4 million repairing or replacing poorly designed drainage throughout the city.”

Nixon countered that he didn’t feel it was his obligation to grant an easement for water from Heritage Park.

Once the commission approved the final plans for the subdivision in May 2006, the council gave the plans its blessing at its next meeting. A number of solutions were bandied about at the council meeting. Jay Whisker, serving in the capacity of city engineer, told the council that there are a number of solutions “depending on how much you want to spend.”

Nixon said, “I’m not sure what the solution is, but we are willing to be reasonable, but we do feel that that we are not the cause.” The question, according to the mayor is “what are we going to do and who’s going to pay for it. Everyone has got to share in the cost, as there’s enough blame to go around.” Nixon and the council agreed to have a committee research the problem and report back, possibly by the end of the month, with solutions.