Hector Sanchez said his home has been flooded three times this year, in May, August and September. Sanchez said he has replaced his ductwork in the crawl space of his home twice. He and his wife put their house on the market for sale, but because home inspection found mold problems in the crawl space, the potential buyer backed out.
“It kind of gives us nowhere to go,” Sanchez said, pointing out that the mold formed due to the amount of water that has been on his property this year.
Judy Jordan asked the council to pass the studies and the further work that was proposed during the council’s work session because of problems she has on her property on Ewing Drive. Jordan said a culvert brings water from the highway into her yard and asked for the city to build a drainage ditch to carry this water into the creek next to her home.
“As long as I’m sitting up here, I’m going to be on your side for better drainage and flood control,” said Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler to the citizens.
“Everybody that’s up here is on the same page,” Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston said in regards to the council working together to get these studies carried out and to have all areas of concern addressed.
In reference to continued development, specifically the issue concerning the Poole family, Huddleston said that Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead has criticized and ridiculed the council for opposing continued development.
“It’s time for development to stop until we get this water issue solved,” Huddleston said. In regards to more restrictions on development, Huddleston added, “I want to be as stringent as possible.”
“We don’t want to stop growth in this town. We can’t solve all of the flooding problems, unfortunately because of where we are,” Craighead said, referring to Lebanon’s location.
“It doesn’t matter how many studies we do, if we continue to develop in the floodplain we’re going to have problems,” Buhler said.
The studies will be conducted on areas in all six wards, which include Richmond Hills/Barnes Drive to Palmer Road, U.S. 231 North/Oakdale Drive, West End Heights, NERA/Carver Lane/Blair Lane/Cook Drive, Cumberland Univ./West Spring Street and Head Homes/Johnson Heights.
Chuck Boyett, City and Utilities engineer, added a list of 20 areas that had citizen complaints to be investigated further. Boyett said some can be done in-house and others may require further studies.
After Mrs. Poole spoke, she asked Boyett to add Center Street to the original list of 19 and Boyett penciled in her request. “I don’t want to put things on the consultants that we can do in-house. We need to use their services very selectively, most we can solve on our own,” Boyett said.
The total cost of the studies right now is $58,400 and can go up to $80,000. The Engineering budget has $40,000 available and the city’s general fund budget has another $40,000 to put toward the studies.
During the council’s 5 p.m. work session Tuesday, Boyett said he will have to sit down with the consultants and figure out when they can have the studies finished before committing to a time frame for the work to be done.
“We’ve got to have them done in time for budget next year,” Boyett said, referring to the studies being finished hopefully by January.
Ward 5 Councilor Haywood Barry said he has had constituents ask him why the city can’t use the $58,400 and fix the problems on their own through public work. Boyett and Jeff Baines, commissioner of Public Works, pointed out that they don’t have the capacity to do the work that will most likely be needed.
“We don’t have the staff and this level of study is beyond our capacity,” Baines said. Boyett and Baines said they are going through the list of 20 areas that have been identified as problem areas and are going to determine what can be done in two days, or two weeks by the city employees and not have to be looked at by the independent consultants.
Also, the council deferred an ordinance on its second reading to rezone 17.45 acres of land on Hickory Ridge Road and South Hartmann Drive to Highway Business that caused considerable debate at the last meeting.
The ordinance was deferred by Ward 4 Councilor Joe Hayes in order to find more information on the effect water runoff will have from possible development of the property on nearby residences and the effect of runoff from the new Lebanon High School and the new Winfree-Bryant Middle School.
Debate surrounding that ordinance, most notably the possibility of a service station being built on the property, sparked the creation of Ordinance 10-3752, which added restrictions to Title 14, Chapter 2, Section 14-216 of the city’s Zoning Ordinance. City Planner Will Hagar added restrictions that a service station cannot place underground fuel tanks within 60 feet of the top bank of a creek.
The ordinance to amend the City Zoning Ordinance died for the lack of a motion after Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer asked Baines, “Why are we bothering to do this?” Baines replied, saying “I don’t know why.”
Several councilors felt that the 60-foot restriction wasn’t enough, including Farmer who said if he could he would place them 600 feet from the top of the bank, like stations such as the Mapco on Leeville Pike and South Hartmann Drive.
The Environmental Protection Agency does not have any distance requirements, Hagar said, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation provided him with little guidance because they have no restrictions either.
In previous meetings and work sessions, Baines informed the council that these tanks are held up to such standards that one leaking underground is less likely than a problem above ground. Also, he has said that no one would want to put tanks inside the floodplain anyway.
The council will meet again on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. with a work session to be held at 5 p.m., before the regular meeting.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.