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Developer, ‘The Farm’ draw fire from residents

Residents from The Farm at Willow Creek subdivision, off Evans Road, addressed Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen at its meeting, Thursday, Aug. 28.

Residents wanted answers about the safety of their subdivision and its infrastructure.

The Farm at Willow Creek, developed by Chip Leonard, has had a leaking storm water drainage system for about a year. The leak has caused erosion and the collapse of a road in the subdivision and a sidewalk off Evans Road.

Addressing residents’ questions, Town Attorney Tom Hale explained that Blount Excavating seemingly repaired the system after the road collapse in September 2006. However, the construction crew, developer and designer are now involved in litigation regarding payment.

Leonard didn’t pay Blount Excavating for the repair work done. Blount Excavating sued for the costs; Leonard counter-sued, saying Blount Excavating was at fault for the leak. The designer of the system, Jordan, James and Goulding, also is involved in the suit.

Hale explained the Town was attempting to “facilitate [and] put pressure on all the parties” to come to an agreement.

“There’s no question there are leaks. What’s not clear is what’s responsible.

“There are storm sewers all over Town that don’t do this,” Hale said, adding that all parties needed to agree on what’s wrong in order to fix the leaks correctly. Otherwise, the problem could continue to resurface.

Willow Creek residents seemed confused about the role the Town played in development of the subdivision.

The Town had nothing to do with development or design of the infrastructure in the subdivision besides ensuring the design met certain regulations, Hale said.

Nor did the Town pay for the drainage system to be installed.

The drainage line in question is made of corrugated metal and connects to concrete pipe at Evans Road and flows to the creek on the other side of Virtue Road.

The line has been scoped and photographed to discover the problem. The camera captured leaks at many joints and showed some collapsed or damaged pipe as well.

“We can see where the failures are and they’re all up in that area from the pond over to … where the big failure occurred,” Hale said, referring to the road collapse.

Town Engineer Darryl Smith said the system was repaired only at the site of the road collapse, but there were problems “throughout that system from the detention basin down to Evans Road.”

According to Public Works Director Bud McKelvey, the drainage pipes are buried under as much as 20 feet of dirt and weren’t back-filled properly with aggregate, but with dirt alone.

Willow Creek lot owner Mike Garl said the problem is “a life safety issue.” Other portions of road or sidewalk could collapse as more dirt erodes around the pipes.

“When does it become the town of Farragut’s problem?” asked homeowner Kim Panell.

Hale explained the Town has a letter of credit, understood to be approximately $150,000, for the streets, drainage and retention basin, “like we have in every subdivision,” Hale said.

However, the roads in Willow Creek are not yet considered public roads, and as such, are not yet Farragut’s responsibility to fix.

“There is a bonding process that occurs over a period of time before the Town finally accepts the road. We’re in that process,” said Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III.

“We want to make sure it gets fixed just like you because if it doesn’t get fixed, then it becomes our responsibility that we have to deal with,” Hale said.

“We’re hoping we can get it fixed so the citizens of the town of Farragut, generally, don’t have to pay for it. The people that are responsible for the problem will pay for it,” he added.


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