INDIAN TRAIL – A year after Hurricane Florence, a potential new development has residents concerned about floods.
At the Indian Trail Planning Board meeting Sept. 17, developers requested a rezoning to allow them to build 174 houses on 62.6 acres along the Oak Springs Road corridor.
While concerns about increased traffic were brought to the board’s attention, the main worry from residents was the developers’ plan for flooding, with the damage from Hurricane Florence at the forefront of their minds.
Indian Trail resident Chris Daniels showed the board a FEMA drawing of where the nearby creek was expected to flood alongside a photo of where it actually flooded during the hurricane.
“I’m not a FEMA expert, but I know a year ago, we were all sitting around trying to figure out what was going on,” Daniels said, “whether our houses were going to be flooded.”
Daniels was worried about the impact the development could have on the surrounding areas.
“My concern is if a development, they push dirt in the wrong way, that it’s going to push additional flood downstream that’s going to impact everybody that’s downstream,” Daniels said. “So, that means everybody in Hemby Bridge, everybody in Indian Trail and then the rest of Union County. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but that’s the concern based on where we were last year on this day.”
Daniels was one of three residents at the meeting concerned about this possibility, even though the plan includes a retention pond for stormwater.
“You go and add a bunch of water, a bunch of houses, where is the runoff going to go?” resident Ken Porter said. “They can build a retaining pond, but it’s not going to hold it. They can’t build one big enough.”
Civil engineer Brent Cowan addressed these concerns. He said Hopper Communities’ plans for the development show that there will be no flooding in the floodplain, although most towns allow it. He assured residents the development will not contribute to flooding in the area and explained FEMA’s mapping process, noting the developers will meet the requirements.
“The state says we have to treat the first inch of runoff to remove all the pollutants from it, and then the town’s ordinance says we have to detain the two, 10, 25-year storms and we will have a pond that meets those requirements,” Cowan said.
The planning board also asked follow-up questions with residents’ concerns in mind.
Cheryl Mimy wanted to know how residents in surrounding areas will be impacted by possible flooding as a result of the development.
“I know the final decision isn’t ours, but when we approve anything, we want to make sure it’s fair and that it’s fine with our neighbors because that’s more important,” Mimy said. “You’re going to build and you’re going to be gone. You’re going to make your money and then leave. They have to live there.”
Hopper Communities Founder Bart Hopper said his company has a good reputation and will make sure the engineering does not leave a negative impact on neighbors, although he cannot solve all of the existing flooding problems.
“It won’t be any worse than it already is for the surrounding,” Hopper said. “It’s at least status quo with what we do, so you can’t make an existing situation worse. And that’s not just us and him, but that’s with your codes and whatnot, which, if you think about it, makes sense.”
Before the vote, Planning Director Brandi Deese reminded the board that engineers have a scientific way of calculating their plans to meet the town’s planning standard and this is a process that even planners do not get involved in, and neither should the planning board.
The board unanimously voted in favor of the amendments. Residents will have an opportunity to address their concerns with the town council Oct. 8.