Citizens protest proposed development

March 16, 2013

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Members of the Commissioners Court got an earful Tuesday from several homeowners and a business owner who said that a proposed duplex development on James Road would exacerbate an already serious flooding problem.

The request by MWS Properties could reappear on a future court agenda because there was an even split on the court.

Precinct 1 Commissioner James Deaver and Precinct 3 Commissioner Jeff Tout voted in favor of approving the request for 3103 James Road, but Precinct 2 Commissioner Dick Roan and County Judge Darrell Cockerham voted against it. Precinct 4 Commissioner Steve Berry was out sick and therefore unavailable to break the tie.

3103 James Road is between Creations Child Care & Learning Center and Fountain Village west of Acton.

On Wednesday, Steven Walt, who lives in the 3100 block of James Road, said that he and some of the other homeowners in the Stoney Creek development might hire an attorney in hopes of forcing the county to correct a drainage problem that they believe is the county’s responsibility.

On Thursday, he phoned the Hood County News to say he had met with Tout that morning, and that Tout seemed to be reversing his prior stance and was promising help from the county.

A phone call to Tout confirmed that the county “is definitely going to do something, but we don’t know what it’s going to be.”

Walt said he was told that some of the culvert pipes are angled wrong and not deep enough, and that the county will correct those issues in June, when school is out and there will be less traffic on James Road.

On Tuesday, some members of the court believed that the fault might actually lie with the builder, in which case there would be no responsibility on the part of the county. But on Wednesday, a county crew went to Walt’s home and determined that its elevation is above what was required.

“His house is built according to the plat that was submitted and approved by the county,” said Tout. “And that kind of gave us the ability to pursue correcting some of the drainage problems. We can’t eliminate them because the land is so flat. But we’re in it together and we’re definitely going to work with them.”

tuesday’s meeting

Walt was among five people who addressed the court at its regular meeting Tuesday, relaying tales of flooding and drainage problems that at times have brought water within just a few feet of houses.

Donald Linney, head of the Road Operations Department and also head of Development and Compliance, said that the water comes down “from the north.”

Some of the speakers commended the newly elected Tout for taking the time to meet with them about the problem. But in a move that seemed to surprise those in attendance, Tout, instead of voting against the site development plan, made a motion to approve it.

Tout told the group that “there may be an issue with the elevation of the homes” and said it’s “not fair for you to come in and dump it on us.”

That comment angered one woman, who interrupted Tout to declare: “Sir, it is your problem.”

“We want to work with you,” Tout responded. “(But) if your builder built too low, that’s not the county’s fault.”

Roan told the Hood County News that when he moved here in the late 1990s, he noticed that the area around James Road tended to flood and was surprised when he suddenly saw that slabs for homes had been poured there.

“I wondered why they were building because those houses – that was all swamp,” he said. “It was always wet. I think they poured three slabs at the same time. They were obviously a couple of feet below the road.”

Walt said that residents of Fountain Village are also worried about the likelihood of increased drainage issues if the duplexes are built.

Candy Wright, who lives on Fountain Way, told commissioners: “I am definitely a witness to the flooding.” She said that some yards in the Stoney Creek neighborhood are “completely under water” at times.

John Hall, who also lives on Fountain Way, said that he, too, can confirm that homeowners in that area “have a huge drainage issue.”

Stephen Reinke, owner of Creations Child Care & Learning Center, was among those who spoke at the meeting.

“I have witnessed the drainage issues, and water going across James Road,” he told commissioners.

It is not known whether MWS Properties will bring the request back before the Commissioners Court. No one representing the company spoke during the public hearing.

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