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‘The Farm’ residents express impatience

Residents of The Farm at Willow Creek expressed their impatience with the Town’s actions in repairing the subdivision’s faulty storm water drainage system at the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Thursday, Nov. 6.

Kim Panelle, a Willow Creek homeowner, brought a letter dated Jan. 24, sent from the Town and addressed to Chip Leonard, developer of The Farm at Willow Creek.

The letter quoted from the Farragut Municipal Code, stating: “the responsible person [for a problem] shall have 30 days to effect maintenance and repair of the facility in an approved manner.”

“Thirty days went by and by and we still have a collapsing street,” Panelle said.

“What I am trying to do is explain or show the Board the amount of time the residents and lot owners of The Farm at Willow Creek have waited for some sort of resolution,” she added.

The Farm at Willow Creek has had a leaking storm water drainage system for more than two years. The leak has caused erosion and the collapse of a road in the subdivision and sidewalk off Evans Road.

The Board voted to intervene in a lawsuit between the developer and contractor of the subdivision at its Oct. 9 meeting.

“We have tried numerous times to come to some sort of agreement with you all, hoping you would step in and correct the problem and then address it with Mr. Leonard,” Panelle said.

“I know that everybody would like every problem solved immediately. This is complicated,” Town attorney Tom Hale said.

“I think we’ve explained as best we can that this will take some time to accomplish,” he added.

Hale extended an offer to Willow Creek residents to enter the lawsuit as well, as he has done in past meetings. Again, Panelle declined, saying the residents and lot owners couldn’t afford it.

“We’re moving as quickly as we possibly can to deal with it … it’s not going to happen overnight,” Hale said. He said the Town had no time frame for fixing the drainage system.

“Let me ask you what you think we should do?” Hale asked Panelle.

“I’m looking for the Town to step in, fix it, and then go after Mr. Leonard,” she answered.

“I think you have been patient enough. I think this is now a health and safety issue,” Alderman Tom Rosseel said.

“I think the Town can step in. There are ways for us to recoup our funds in this. There is a letter of credit,” he added. Rosseel made a motion for the Town to repair the drainage system. Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III declared his motion out of order.

Ford said the Town might not be able to recoup funds if they paid to fix the drainage system, which Town Engineer Darryl Smith has estimated could cost more than $400,000.

“What we’re looking at is the reconstruction of a major drainage system … we’re going to require that what was originally installed [a metal pipe] be reinstalled as a concrete pipe,” Ford said.

“This is going to be extremely expensive. Mr. Smith tells me at some places, the ditch will have to be 20 feet deep. I suggest that before this Town rushes headlong into a half a million dollars … we clearly see what our line might be to recoup the money,” he added.

Ford said the $150,000 letter of credit, normally used for roads within subdivisions, might not apply to replacing the drainage system.

“The issue is, can any of that money be used for the reconstruction of the drainage system?” Ford said.

“The other question might be, if there are other problems within the subdivision, where do we turn to repair those other problems if we recoup all of that money for the drainage system?

“It’s a very complicated issue. And I suggest we take our time and look at it,” he added.

“The residents are stuck in the middle of all this,” Panelle said.

“So is the Town,” Hale answered.

Rosseel asked the item be put on the Dec. 11 meeting agenda.


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