County, town still searching for solutions
With spring on the way, Eugene Griggs would like to go outside and enjoy the weather in his backyard. But the Indian Trail resident has to wait a few more days until water from a storm a week ago finally drains away.
Griggs and his neighbors live in the Traewyck subdivision, right on the border of Indian Trail and county land. The subdivision was built in 1998. In 2008, the Sardis Road Industrial Park was approved by the county, to be built on county land next door. When the park was built, fill dirt was moved around, creating a runoff problem for Griggs and seven of his neighbors. Water floods into their backyards and stays until eventually draining off.
“Anytime it rains, you can’t go in the backyard,” the recently retired Griggs, a Vietnam veteran, said. “I moved here in 2000. When they built the industrial park, the flooding was bad. But now the problem has got worse and worse as the park has increased in size.”
The water comes rushing downhill and pools up, giving the appearance in some photos as if Griggs and his neighbors lived on a lake. In some cases, the water measured two feet deep. Since the flooding started, Griggs said he’s tried to get someone to address his concerns, but nobody has managed to make any progress. He’s talked to members of the current and previous Indian Trail town councils, made phone calls to the county, even called the North Carolina Department of Transportation when county staff members directed him that way.
“It was never my intention to embarrass the town or the county,” Griggs said. “But this is ridiculous, no one is willing to accept responsibility.”
Because the industrial park is on county land, Indian Trail can’t force any changes, as the town has no legal authority. The county is aware of the problem, according to public information officer Brett Vines, but is just doesn’t have a solution.
“Yes the county is aware of the situation,” Vines said. At this point, the county hasn’t identified a plan of action. The county is aware of the issue and will decide what to do at a later date.”
Vines pointed out that a previous Indian Trail town council that approved the subdivision’s construction in 1998, on a border with land that had been zoned for an industrial park.
Indian Trail’s hands are mostly tied, town manager Joe Fivas said, due to the park’s location.
“It’s not a question if we want to be helpful,” Fivas said. “(The question is) do we have the legal authority to do more than advise? We’ve had discussions with county officials. We are setting up a formal meeting to discuss more details.”
The concern for Griggs and his neighbors has to do with more than watered-down yards. He points to the fact that water has started to seep in near the foundation of his house.
“I’m at a dead end,” Griggs said. “My neighbors and I have even offered to pay, if someone can come up with a solution. Now we shouldn’t have to pay anything, but OK, tell us what it will cost to make this right. Even with that, I still got no answer.”
Instead, Griggs feels he’s been given a run-around, pushed off on NCDOT and asked to contact the property owner himself, to work something out.
Searching for solutions
Indian Trail mayor Michael Alvarez said he’s still getting up to speed on the case, so he can’t offer an immediate solution as to how the town can legally help. In the meantime, Alvarez said the town will look at finding the specific cause of the run-off.
“Right now, I believe the town can help by assisting these people in getting the facts, as to what is the real cause of the flooding, how it became a problem and any other questions they might have,” Alvarez said. “Once the facts have been accumulated, then we can offer some guidance to the residents as to where they can seek the solutions to the situation.”
Alvarez said he spoke with the county about the issue and that county staff members were very cooperative in providing the town with the information requested.
“These are Indian Trail residents, and it is our obligation to assist any resident who seeks our help to the best of our abilities,” Alvarez said. “This is a very sad situation, and I hope it is one that can be resolved quickly.”
As of March 14, Griggs said he hadn’t heard anything from either the county or the town, but is willing to give them more time to work out a solution. But after three years of not getting answers, Griggs said he’s tired of waiting.
“It’s not the way I planned to start my retirement,” he said.