Midtown Raleigh News

Concerned about runoff and flooding, neighbors protest Raleigh subdivisions

Residents of two Raleigh neighborhoods are upset about new subdivisions they fear will increase stormwater and flooding, but a hearing last week determined they’re powerless to stop the growth next door.

The residents of the neighborhoods – one off West Millbrook Road, the other off Falls of Neuse Road – took their concerns to the Raleigh City Council last week. Under the city’s rules, the subdivision plans never came before an appointed or elected board and were approved by city planning staff.

John Enggas lives on Partridge Lane and says heavy rains already cause Marsh Creek to jump its banks and flood his backyard. He says he’s had to raise the level of his yard “just to keep the water out of my house.” Enggas worries runoff from the proposed 35-lot Wimbledon subdivision behind his property will make the problem worse.

“I am well aware of the results that site clearing has on water runoff and this particular development will cause disastrous results on my property,” Enggas wrote in a letter appealing the subdivision’s approval.

The appeal led to what’s known as a “quasi-judicial hearing,” effectively turning the city council chambers into a courtroom. The process allowed an attorney for the Wimbledon developers to cross-examine Enggas and his neighbors and cut off their remarks by lodging objections. Both sides were allowed to present only concrete facts related to whether the subdivision meets city standards.

Tom Worth, the attorney for Eastman Development Company, said the subdivision’s planned infrastructure can handle a 25-year flood. “I believe the evidence clearly shows that what’s presented here clearly exceeds the (city’s) requirements,” Worth said, adding that Enggas knowingly bought a house that sits partially in a flood plain.

On the opposite side of the proposed subdivision, residents had a different worry. Joe Corey lives on a street that would connect to the new homes. He doesn’t think Beechwood Drive can handle the extra cars. “If one car is parked on it, it becomes essentially a one-way street,” he said.

In the end though, the city council denied the neighbors’ appeal, saying the subdivision meets all requirements. “It pains me, but technically they are in compliance,” Councilman Randy Stagner said. He added that the city should look at addressing stormwater issues in the existing neighborhood; that review is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday during the council’s comprehensive planning committee meeting.

The same fate met another subdivision appeal the city council also heard last week. Residents of the Kirkwood Park neighborhood on West Millbrook Road also cited stormwater and traffic concerns in opposing a 13-lot subdivision planned next door. And they worry that heavy machinery going through the neighborhood to build the subdivision will damage the pavement.

The neighbors’ attorney, Andy Petesch, argued that the proposed layout of the subdivision doesn’t follow Raleigh’s rules. He asked the council to impose conditions that developers use an access point on Millbrook Road and repair any damage to Kirkwood streets.

“You’re trying to prove that this is a better idea, but that’s not what we’re discussing,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said, though she conceded that the city’s subdivision layout rules could use a review.

“I’m clearly sympathetic to the neighbors that live there and didn’t envision this,” McFarlane said.

The council’s votes allow both controversial subdivisions to move forward.