Concern over worsening drainage issues was the reason behind an appeal for the City Council to review the approval of a subdivision development (St. Clair Estates and B&H Subdivisons) on land on the north side at the end of Culbertson Lane.
“The flooding is real,” said neighborhood resident Don Gates. “If you add one house it’s going to get worse. If you add 32 it’s going to be a disaster. We ask you, we plead with you turn this project down. Don’t send it back to planning and zoning. Save our neighborhood please.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved an application submitted by Braddox Johnson at its May 2 meeting to subdivide 17 acres to develop a multi-phase, single-family residential subdivision. The City Council denied the request for the subdivision development at its meeting Monday night, June 12.
Joe Payne Williams spoke on behalf of the St. Clair Homeowners Association who feels the development is a bad idea. According to Williams, five homes on Katelyn Circle have a tremendous problems getting in and out when it rains. The water is often inches from getting inside Rick Harrington’s home. Driving through the intersection of Katelyn and Ledet is often impossible when it rains.
Eddie Harrington, Councilman for District 1, said he he’s driven up and down Ledet during regular strong rains and wasn’t able to make it down.
“I know it’s not Mr. Johnson’s fault but I can not willingly make this worse,” he said.
Duk Ha Lee, who lives on Katelyn Circle, said there’s been multiple times since his family moved here in 2002 that his family has been unable to leave their home due to flooding.
“I’m against this development because our area is not draining right now and once they pour the concrete all the water is going to pour down to the lower houses,” he said.
Norman Nassif, a civil engineer, who lives in the area said, “The draining situation in my professional opinion has gotten worse in the past three years. I don’t know why my house has flooded. If I had to guess it’s because of other developments down the way. Is there a minimum slab elevation for that neighborhood?”
City Planning and Zoning Director Juanita Fowler said any developments in the neighborhood would have to comply with the current elevation requirements set by FEMA.
When asked if the elevation standards could be reevaluated, Fowler said yes, but it would be at the cost of the city. There is a portion of the proposed development on a flood plain and they have to comply with the current standards. The process of getting FEMA to reevaluate the 100 year flood line would take longer than the development of the project. Until it has changed the city can only require the developers adhere to the guidelines.
Katelyn Circle resident Elvin Shields said the drainage problem isn’t the developers problem. “If you follow the drain all the way down there’s the problem. You got trees, tires, refrigerators and other things blocking it. It’s never going to drain if it’s blocked. I don’t want to deny Mr. Johnson the profits he expected. I think the city should put in a 17 acre retention pond and give Mr. Johnson a reasonable profit.”
Council member Don Mims said the drainage ditch for the area was initially developed in the 50s it was a very small town back then especially on the east side.
“The ditch is basically substandard for what we have now,” he said. “I think we need to reevaluate the ditch.”
Other agenda items included:
· Proclamation declaring June 14, 2017 as U.S. Army Day in commemoration of the Army’s 242nd Birthday in Natchitoches
· Award bid for two Pulse Fault Interrupters (upright cross arm model, non-disconnect style)
· Approve acquisition of a lot on the West side of Fifth Street from Rena Mae Thomas Clark for $35,500
· Fix time, day, date and place of City Council meetings for the next 12 months
· Establish meeting times and places of: Natchitoches Planning Commission, Historic District Commission, Airport Advisory Commission, and Waterworks District No.1
· Appoint Charles Whitehead III, Rev. Bobby Claiborne, Michael D. Lewis, Rickey McCalister, Jamie Flanagan, Isaac Lewis, Jacob Cooper and Ron Brown to the City Planning Commission
· Appoint Jared Dunahoe, Dr. Virginia Crossno, Sharon Gahagan, Dr. Steve Horton, Melissa Robinson and Marion Salter to the Natchitoches Historic District Commission
· Appoint Stacy McQueary as Clerk of the City Council
· Appoint Ronald E. Corkern as City Attorney and Daniel T. Murchison Jr. Cloyd Benjamin Jr., Steven D. Crews, J. Chris Guillet and Lisa V. Johnson as Assistant City Attorneys
· Appoint the firm of Johnson, Thomas and Cunningham as City Auditor
· Appoint MidSouth Bank as City Fiscal Agent
· Designate the Natchitoches Times as the official legal journal for the City for the next 12 months
· Execute an Extension Agreement to a Claims Administration Service Contract between Hammerman & Gainer, Inc. and the City, which will extend the term for an additional year from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018
· Enter into a contract with Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services for the One Beacon Insurance Group Casualty Package Insurance Renewal effective June 30, 2017 through June 30, 2018