Collegedale Commissioners Referee Stormwater Dispute

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - by Gail Perry

 Collegedale Commissioners held a hearing Monday night in an attempt to resolve a dispute between the city and two longtime residents. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Hayes bought their home and six acres in 1978 at 5641 Barrington Country Circle. In 1985 they acquired four acres that back up to the original lot.

In 2010 discussions were broached about the potential for building a world class dressage training facility on the four-acre property and Aug. 9, 2010, Mr. Hayes sent Andrew Morkert, Collegedale’s building inspector, a letter to notify the city that the project would be going forward. In late 2011 land disturbance started. The first structure built was an 80-foot by 200-foot dressage area modeled on a design from Kentucky. There are no issues with this part of the project since the surface is designed with excellent water absorption, officials said. This is already in use.

Plans for a barn were submitted to the building inspector on Jan. 3, 2013, and at that time, a building permit was issued along with a letter from the building inspector giving requirements for the permit. Mr. Morkert modified and added to requirements during the beginning phase of the building construction. However, with all the other changes he requested, he never mentioned the issue of a detention pond for storm water run-off until construction of the barn was nearly complete, it was claimed.

If given notice before the building was begun, the couple said a detention pond could have been planned into the design. However, since the structure is complete, a detention pond would now have to be buried with a substantial cost estimated to be around $50,000.

The barn, which was completed in mid-May, has yet to be used because the building inspector will not issue the owners a certificate of occupation and will not allow electricity to be connected to the structure.

Chris Clem, attorney representing the Hayes couple, contended that when the permit was issued with no mention of a detention pond, that requirement of the storm water ordinance had been waived. Another option that would have eliminated the requirement all together would have been to combine the two adjacent pieces of property into one consisting of 11 acres, which would exempt the necessity for a pond since the larger size lot would fulfill the stormwater specifications. Furthermore, he said, this has never before been applied to construction of a barn, which he referred to a “selective enforcement.”

Commissioner Debbie Baker said that reports show excellent cooperation in all other phases of the building and questioned what brought the water issues to the attention of  the commission, asking if it was because neighbors had complained of water running across their property during heavy rains.

In cross examining Mr. Morkert, attorney Clem asked why he had waited five months before notifying the owners that a detention pond was needed since he had requested other changes. This question yielded the reply of I don’t know.

In the end, a motion was made and passed unanimously, which defers a decision of the appeal until the second meeting in September. Commissioners gave permission to occupy the barn with the stipulation that occupation can be withdrawn if the specified conditions are not met. The intention is to abandon the joint property line to create one large piece of land that will be zoned residential.  This will require the approval of the city’s planning commission. It is expected that engineers from both the development and the city will find a mutual solution to the water issues on the property.

In regular business, the commissioners voted to participate in the TML Risk Management Pool grant program. This $1,500 grant will be a 50 percent match with the city and will be used to buy safety equipment such as steel toe boots and safety vests.

City Manager Ted Rogers, in his financial report, said the city is financially healthy. The city has met all projections of revenue and came in below budgeted expenditures. Mayor John Turner said this exemplifies good stewardship of the city’s money, and that the commissioners are conservative by nature.

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