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Town, The Farm set court date

The Farm at Willow Creek residents and lot owners, who have sought a fix for their subdivision’s leaking stormwater drainage system, got answers from Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen Dec. 11.

“This is going to be a very expensive fix, no matter who does it, whether we do it or whether the developer does it,” Town Engineer Darryl Smith said.

For two years, The Farm at Willow Creek’s stormwater drainage system has been cracked and leaking, washing away subterranean earth and causing the collapse of a road in the subdivision and a partial sidewalk collapse on Evans Road.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the storm drainage system have severe problems that have caused the backfill around the pipes, under the street, to wash away,” Smith said.

“We’re seeing some slumping streets, sidewalks, curb and gutter,” he added.

A scope First Utility District performed on the drainage line revealed cracks and leaks at nearly every joint along the 42-inch spiral metal pipe, as well as collapsed portions of pipe.

According to Smith, nearly 1,100 feet of the damaged system, some of which is buried 23 feet deep, will have to be excavated and replaced with concrete pipe.

Besides the pipe, much of the road and sidewalk in the subdivision, and some on Evans Road, would need to be removed and replaced.

“Most likely, the entire roadway is going to have to come out,” Smith said.

He estimated construction costs could exceed $650,000, not to mention engineering costs.

“There are a lot of problems, but one of the biggest problems is access,” Smith said of any future fix. Access to several lots and at least two homes would be “iffy” during construction.

Smith also said work would have to be sequenced exactly to retain utilities to homes in the subdivision.

“Looking at this, there are about 6,000 cubic yards of excavation … 700 feet of roadway, 1,400 linear feet of curb and gutter and sidewalk, and all the utilities along that route” that would need to be fixed, Smith said.

Smith said engineering plans for the fix would take two to three months to draw up and estimated construction would take about 60 to 90 days.

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III explained this information was needed by Town Attorney Tom Hale for a lawsuit between developer Chip Leonard and the designer and contractor of the subdivision.

The Board authorized Hale to intervene in the suit in October. Hale has a mid-January court hearing date.

“I have attempted to get the parties in the lawsuit to agree so we don’t have to wait for a court date, but the problem is the developer doesn’t have an attorney at this point,” Hale said.

“It looks like we’re going to have to wait for the court hearing before we will be allowed to intervene. I feel fairly confident the court will allow us to intervene,” he added.

Hale said Smith’s information, as well as “expert testimony regarding the cause of the problem” would help the Town prevail in the suit.

Hale said the Town faced a decision: it could decide to fix the problem and recoup the cost later or require the responsible party to repair it.

“I guess the quickest avenue to getting it fixed is to fix it,” Hale said, adding risks and expenses are associated with that.

Alderman Tom Rosseel said engineering plans would need to be drawn in either scenario.

“No matter which route we proceed through, whether the Town intervenes or … if we follow through the lawsuit route, this is the first stage that has to be done,” Rosseel said.

The Board gave direction to Smith to have an engineering analysis done, as Hale said this also would help in the lawsuit.

“Having a clear understanding of what’s going on there, from an independent third party … couldn’t hurt at all, and as I say, is going to ultimately be necessary in the lawsuit,” Hale said.

“It would help,” he added.

Hale also said expert engineer testimony would help.

“Unless there is a dramatic change of some kind, this matter is going to have to be tried. That will take a while … until a trial date is set, a discovery is done and the parties come in and put on their proof and the court determines who prevails,” Hale said.


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