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Residents angry about new developments causing stormwater problems


By Matt Kaufax

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    PELZER, South Carolina (WHNS) — Ray Hershey says flooding and stormwater issues aren’t new for his community. “It just comes flying down the road,” Hershey said of stormwater during heavy rains in his neighborhood. “All the stormwater sewers lead straight to the lake,” he added, “and it’s not just the volume of water, but the velocity of the water.” But he says it’s something that has actually gotten worse in recent times, especially with all of the storms of the last year or so. And he says the 43 homeowners responsible for maintaining Lake Trollingwood have been on the hook financially–some with thousands of dollars in damage from recent storms. “We are getting a lot more water now that there’s this development up there, and it’s all coming downhill,” Hershey explained, talking about new homes being built just up the road from one of Pelzer’s oldest neighborhoods. Greenville County Councilman Lynn Ballard told us he received multiple complaints over the course of months from residents in the Trollingwood community. “There was a significant amount of brown water running here, there, and everywhere,” Ballard said. “And it even contaminated their well.” After compiling emails obtained from the county, Fox Carolina was able to piece together a timeline: In all, records show 3 complaints about water runoff issues in the Trollingwood community were made since May—the first one coming from homeowners on Rivendell Drive May 8th. After the first complaint, Ballard says county inspectors went out to look at the isolated area, and determined repairs were needed. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. After the third and final complaint from residents on Shadowmere Drive on June 22, Ballard says county inspectors came out once again, this time in force, with a team of engineers and inspectors. That team surveyed at least 30 lots undergoing construction in the community, and found something startling. “That was just a failure of the protective measures that were put in place,” Ballard said. The final report, released on June 30 by the Assistant County Administrator for Community Planning, names multiple lots being built into new homes in the Preserve at Trollingwood community as a large part of the problem. Fox Carolina went looking, and found several “stop work“ orders issued on lots in that area, highlighting numerous code violations, including but not limited to: uninstalled drainage mechanisms, incomplete silt fencing, and other water control measures, like small retention ponds, which officials say were listed on plans by developers and contractors, but never actually built. “Those kinds of issues fall onto the developer and the contractor,” Ballard said. “If we don’t get complaints, the assumption is everything is working the way it is supposed to.” Ballard says the county has now stepped in to create a stormwater control plan in conjunction with builders. But homeowners like Ray are still worried. “As this end of the county gets developed, there is a lot of pressure to put a lot of homes in here,” Hershey reflected. “That’s just going to add to the water.” He says the larger issue at the county level is still growth and development occurring at a rapid pace, and what he views as the lack of infrastructure available to compensate for it. Hershey says he wants the county to take a hard look at infrastructure plans for the future in his area. “They are concerned about dealing with this individual problem on a micro level,” Hershey remarked. “We are concerned about our lake in our neighborhood on a macro level.” Fox Carolina reached out to the developer of the Preserve at Trollingwood, who said he was not willing to comment on any of the above issues. According to the same report from the Assistant County Administrator’s office, contractors working on homes in that area had until July 6 to resolve stormwater drainage and runoff problems by installing mitigation measures. Over two weeks later on July 20, the “stop work” order signs in front of several lots in the area still remain. Ballard says the county still has confidence in the intention and character of the developers building homes in the Trollingwood area. He says he expects the matter to be dealt with swiftly and efficiently, and that there is no evidence to suggest that any corners were cut intentionally at this time.

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