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BOMA OK’s bailout
Town leaders commit to salvaging The Farm at Willow Creek failed stormwater system

Farragut Town leaders took “risky” steps to ensure the future of a bankrupt housing development.

During a special called meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday, Aug. 5, Board members by roll-call vote unanimously agreed to accept the dedication of the roads and stormwater management facility of The Farm at Willow Creek — portions of which have been closed to traffic for nearly two years due to the failure and collapse of the stormwater system.

Based on an agreement drafted by Town attorney Tom Hale, the Town will oversee and contract an upgrade to the Evans Road subdivision’s stormwater system as Davidson County-based Freeman Webb Investments, Inc., negotiates with the development’s promissory note holder, GreenBank, for control of the note and the development.

Estimated cost for the upgrade could be as much or more than $800,000.

“There is risk,” Hale said concerning agreeing to accept the dedication of all the roads. Hale added that until repairs actually begin, “We can estimate [the cost] until the cows come home.”

Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill said, “The Town retains the right to determine what the ‘fix’ would be to the water system.”

Town Engineer Darryl Smith said the Town was looking at four options for the project: full replacement; repair of the existing storm drain; a “hybrid” repair/replacement; or nothing at all.

Smith, who inspected all 1,100 feet of the existing 42-inch diameter spiral-ribbed metal pipe on hands and knees, attested the “constant flow of water has created voids around the pipe, causing cavities to open” resulting in the road failure or washout, he said the most costly “fix” would be full replacement.

With full replacement, “we would be able to see everything in the trench,” Smith said, adding the Town would replace the metal pipe with “42-inch concrete pipe. This would cost about $750,000 to $800,000.”

Hale said funds for the project would initially come from “a $165,000 letter of credit provided by Chip Leonard, the original developer who is in bankruptcy, that was cashed by the Town and a $300,000 investment from Freeman Webb. Remaining funds would be provided on a 50/50 split between the Town and Freeman Webb up to $142,500 each or $285,000 combined. Additional costs after those funds ($750,000) are exhausted would fall upon the Town.”

Smith said the replacement option would use concrete pipe, which would last about 100 years compared to 20-to-25 years for metal pipe, and the project also would call for a liner to be placed in the development’s water-feature pond that is fed by the stormwater system “to prevent seepage of water into the surrounding soil and the new pipe trench.”

Installing the pond liner would require draining the pond.

Smith said the repair solution cost is estimated to be about $425,000, while the “hybrid” solution would “likely be in the neighborhood of $650,000 to $700,000.”

The Farm resident Kim Pannell said replacing the pond liner would require the pond to be drained and that the current 11 residents’ irrigation systems were fed from that pond.

“Draining the pond would damage our vegetation. The pump has been off for two weeks and our plantings are already turning brown,” she said.

Kent Burns, Freeman Webb president, said as developer of the project, the irrigation system would be connected to the [First Utility District] water system or that some other remedy would be found.

Hale said once the Town receives the $300,000 from Freeman Webb, the Town would have “270 days or six months to complete repairs.”


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