Aspen residents upset about storm water, mud
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Two families who live in two-year-old homes on Aspen Drive in Hartselle say their properties are being damaged by storm water runoff from an adjacent residential construction site, and the problem has persisted in spite of their pleas for help.
Keith Bradley, who lives at 1003 Aspen with his wife Nataliya and two boys, said his yard has been flooded with muddy water every time it has rained hard over the past four or five weeks.
"My privacy fence is stained with red mud that won't wash off and a three foot deep pit in a utility easement on the east side of my house is filled with stagnant water," he said.
Next door neighbor Will Morgan said his back yard, side yard and driveway have been covered with four to five inches of water and mud several times over the past five weeks. "The mud stays after the water leaves. It's a mess to clean up plus I'm afraid it's going to ruin the sod," Morgan said.
An open drainage ditch separates the two properties. Both property owners said they don't have a problem with that but both pointed out that the water that flowed through the ditch before the subdivision development began was murky at the worst, not muddy, and it never overflowed.
Bradley said he had some concerns about how the development might affect his property when it was submitted to the Hartselle Planning Commission for site plan consideration last March.
"I spoke up at the meeting but was assured that adjacent properties would not be adversely affected by the development," he pointed out.
Bradley said he was surprised and angered on June 21 when a construction crew showed up in front of his house without notice and began digging a ditch for a sewer line.
"They parked a piece of equipment on my driveway and some of the workers were using my yard to get to the work site. I asked them what they were doing on my property and they said they had a right because of a utility easement. I wasn't made aware of the easement when I bought my house so I went to the Probate Judge's office to check it out. They told me there was an easement but that the contractor had no right to trespass on my property to get to the easement," he stated.
He said the sewer line work continued until they reached a mass of rock at about the mid-point of the east wall of his house. "While they were pounding on the rock with their equipment I could feel the house shaking and later we discovered cracks in the walls of the kitchen and work room," Nataliya Bradley said.
Bradley said he has made numerous phone calls and visits to the developer, contractor, city officials and city personnel since the problem surfaced but is still waiting for corrective action.
"I have been told it's a "top priority" matter. "If that's the case, why are we having to go through the ordeal again and again after every big rain?" Bradley said.
"I agree that we've had more rain than usual for this time of the year," Morgan said, "but that's something for which they should've been better prepared before construction began. I just want somebody to step up and assume responsibility for what is happening and get it fixed."
Jeff Johnson, director of development, said he is aware of the concerns of families whose property is adjacent to the Puckett Heights Subdivision. "The developer and contractor have assured me that they will make good on any property loss that results from construction activity," he said.
"I have been monitoring the project weekly since it started," he said. "Progress has been hindered by the frequent rains we're having as well as the fact that hitting rock forced them to change plans for the installation of a primary sewer line. I have recommended they work when they can to build a retention pond for storm water runoff."