Stormwater overflow draws ire of North Cleveland residents

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Stormwater from a residential construction project that recently encroached on an adjacent subdivision in North Cleveland has residents angry with the nearby project's developers, but their beef may be with Mother Nature herself.

The matter revealed itself when an entrance road to Anatole — an upscale subdivision located on North Lee Highway — became covered with stormwater that flowed from the new residential community, where a road is currently under construction several hundred feet away.

Heavy rains have inundated the region for several days, causing flooding in several areas of Cleveland and Bradley County, resulting in school closures.

The new subdivision, named Quail Ridge, according to a plat submitted to the city last year, will have approximately 34 homes.

The community is being developed by the Ooltewah-based Riverstone Construction, LLC.

The stormwater drainage issue was raised by Cleveland District 5 Councilman Dale Hughes during a Cleveland City Council work session last week.

“There’s a stormwater problem up there,” he said, referring to the flooding at Anatole. “I’ve been in contact with three of the residents in the past couple of days."

He said the project is damaging adjacent property.

Both subdivisions are located within Hughes’ district.

He referenced a video that had been sent to him by an aggrieved Anatole resident.

“There is water rushing onto some very expensive property, and it actually devalues that property tremendously,” Hughes said. “We need some stormwater attention.”

He said city engineers were currently checking the elevation at the construction site.

Hughes said the presence of the water on the plot of land located between both subdivisions was being soaked by the stormwater, devaluing the land.

“What can we do to salvage the property?" Hughes asked.  "It’s supposed to be a rainy week, and it will get worse."

Hughes told the Cleveland Daily Banner that stormwater should not spill onto  properties nearby.

He also objected to the presence of the new subdivision, which will feature homes that are smaller in size compared to the ones located in Anatole.

“This is a high-end area,” Hughes said. “The residents pay the highest property tax rates in the city,” adding the homes that will be built in the new development will not be compatible with those in Anatole, some of which are valued in the millions of dollars.

While the price-ranges and square footages of the homes slated for construction in the project are not known, Riverstone is also planning to develop the 47-home Graywood Farms community in Cleveland, where the home prices run between $240,000 to $300,000, with square footages varying from just under 1,700 square feet to a little over 1,900 square feet.

In addition, Hughes said the developers of the nearby residential development are not from Cleveland and did not have the best interests of the area at heart.

“They are not local people,” he said.

He said several stormwater drains in Anatole had been paved over accidentally by city workers, which had exacerbated the problem. The drains have been repaired by the city, according to Hughes.

The developers of the new 10-acre subdivision, Hughes said, must correct the problem on their end.

“They have to fix this,” he said. “Water should not spill off to other properties. The development has a legal obligation to fix the problem. They are legally obligated to take care of the water flow.”

Anatole resident Pat Fuller said she had feared the development next door would cause stormwater drainage problems.

“What we expected to happen, happened,” Fuller said.

She said the developers of the new subdivision are at fault.

“When you develop property, you can’t just divert water to other areas,” she said, adding that the water flowing into her subdivision was “like a stream.”

In addition, Fuller said the plot of land located between the two subdivisions cannnot be developed while the stormwater drainage problem continues.

Fuller said the property, which is located inside her subdivision, is owned by Forrest Preston.

“One day he will want to sell it or develop it,” she said.

She also said the city may be at fault.

“The city either approved or overlooked this,” she said of the new subdivision’s stormwater drainage design. “But they have told me it meets code.”

Fuller said she is not against progress.

“I’m for development, but not at the expense of others,” she said.

Jonathan Jobe, City of Cleveland director of development and engineering services, said the department is looking into the stormwater issue.

“We are evaluating it and will make corrections if they are needed,” he said.

He said water retention ponds on the construction site may have been the source of the flooding. In addition, the paved-over storm drains in Anatole may have contributed to the flooding problem.

During construction projects that involve moving massive amounts of earth, muddy runoff  is typically stored in retention ponds until the silt settles on the bottom. Afterward, the water is then slowly released.

But with the heavy rains that have doused the area in what is one of the wettest months in history — according to TVA, the region recently received about month’s worth of rainfall in just two days earlier this month — the retention ponds overflowed, causing the water to drain into the adjacent subdivision.

However, the construction site remains within code, although Jobe said water from the retention ponds may need to be released sooner if the heavy rains continue.

Jobe said the developers have complied with all requirements.

“They have been very cooperative,” he said.

Dustin Wong, one of the owners of Riverstone Construction, issued a statement to the Banner regarding the complaints.

“There are a set of rules and regulations that the City of Cleveland and [the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation] have for building a subdivision,” Wong’s statement said. “We have abided by all their rules."

In addition, Wong said his company has "not received any verbal or written citations.”

Wong referred all questions to the City of Cleveland’s Engineering Office, as well as the project’s engineer, Breck Bowlin of Land Development Solutions.

He declined further comment.

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