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Need Help Fast Before City Hall Meeting

I live in Tennessee. I purchased a new home in a new subdivision (which is still be developed.) I bought on the highest part in the area. Last month as I was driving home there was two retention ponds right down the street from me. It has been said these retention ponds we added to allow for storm water drainage. (The people who bought low were getting flooded)

Problem one: The land owner just so happens to be the Mayor.

My question is: Aren't we suppose to be notified prior to adding a wet/retention pond? If so by what means are we to be notified; public notice or mail? Is he suppose to contact a permit within the EPA standards since it does drain into a creek?

This retention pond was never brought up at any other town meetings!! I am on the agenda to address this problem in four days because now all we have who we smart enough to buy on high ground have stagnate water, no fence around it to protect from accidental drownings and it is ugly as pie!!

Help me so I may prepare to fight Goliath!!!!!! Brenda


Many people desire to have detention/retention areas near their home as they offer open space. As to safety issues, there is really no issue with drowning as these ponds tend to be very shallow, and if deep, should be constructed with a shallow shelf in case someone does fall in. There are engineering guidelines that should be followed.

The first question you should ask is whether these storm water facilities were planned in the approved plat of the subdivision. Most likely, that is the case. In fact, most communities will require that these facilities are constructed before allowing homes to be built on any lots they serve.

Notification requirements will vary by state and community. Again, if the ponds were planned in the approved plat, there would be no notification required anywhere that I am aware of. If they required an alteration to the plat, it is possible that homes within a certain distance might be notified, but again, local requirements will dictate this. More than likely, it just requires the proper publication of the meeting agenda. EPA is not involved. Either the US Army Cops of Engineers (USACE) or your state Department of Natural Resources may be come involved, but usually only if the work will disturb an existing or prior converted wetland or disturb a navigable waterway - neither sounds likely in your case.

Your best approach may be 1) to ensure that the ponds are properly engineered both for function and safety, and 2) focus on why you think they are ugly. Ponds are features that have been turned into community assets with attractive landscaping, picnic areas, gazebos and other features. You could push for the same.

There is not necessarily a conflict of interest in the mayor being the developer, although he/she should most likely not preside over formal council or plan board discussions of the development, and should certainly abstain from any related votes.

Let me offer one last piece of advice - don't go in to the meeting just to complain. I have seen too many instances where someone feels they have been wronged by the city, shows up at a meeting, makes a series of complaints that show no knowledge of the situation's history, blast the council and storms off, only to see nothing happen. Get your facts first: was this planned or a last minute change to the subdivision to compensate for poor engineering in the first place? State your REASONABLE concerns, then offer solutions. (i.e.; "I am concerned about safety. Have these ponds been properly properly designed by a qualified engineer?" or "I think the appearance of the ponds detracts from our neighborhood. Is there any landscaping planned? If not, I would like the council to consider requiring that the site be attractively landscaped." Your neighbors might ask "We bought lots in a new subdivision and we are experiencing flooding. Either this subdivision was poorly deisgned or the required storm water improvements should have been installed up front. Has a qualified engineer designed these storm water features and have they been installed so that we do not have continued flooding concerns."

It's a long response, but I hope it helps.
Thanks for the sound advise. I've allrready developed a point paper. My discussion is: 1. Possible Mosiquto breeding grounds, 2. Concern for small children, saftey issue, 3. Concern for real estate depreciation if not eye appealing, 4. Schedule of regual maintenance and inspections, 5. Ensure adequte drainage descending from pond.

My reccomendations are: 1. Organic control; mosquito eating fish, 2. Protective device of the developers choice be place around the pond, 3. Provide recreational facitlities, walking trails, picnic tables, outdoor grills. Possibly a fountain to eliminater stagnate water, 4. Undeveloped ditches need to be amintained by the sity or land owner to ensure proper drainage down stream, (about 3 lots are blocked with rubbish and nothing can pass through the ditches), 4. Possibly have new builders place concrete pads in ditches to ensure adequate flow.

Conclusion: Both homeowners and developers are aware that Urban Runoff controls can be pleasing to the eye and safe for children . Beneficial to homewoners in lower lying areas.

I'm taking pictures of the eye sore now along with the empty lots that are full of weeds and garbage that prevents the flow downstream.

This is the short version. But I think I have all my duckies in a row. I know you get more done with honey than vinegar.

Wish me luck. The town meeting is on the 3rd of Sept. Thanks again. Brenda