Local News

Johnston County Homeowners Say Rain Runoff Ruining Their Yards

Posted November 14, 2001

— While many people are hoping for much-needed rain, some homeowners in a Johnston County neighborhood dread seeing rain in the forecast.

The homeowners all moved into their new houses in Waverly Point within the last four or five months. The problem is that every time it rains, their yards flood.

What resembles a swift running river is really storm water runoff running through Tina Barnard's front yard.

"It comes down the middle of all these houses, straight down," she said.

Barnard is one of four homeowners dealing with the problem in the Waverly Point subdivision in Johnston County.

Barnard said that the harder it rains, the worse the problem is. She said that even a little rain creates a creek, which muddies her driveway and cuts trenches through her yard.

"You can see where the water rushes," she said of a videotape she took of the damage.

At a neighbor's house, the storm water eroded dirt from underneath the driveway and sidewalk.

The homeowners complained to the developer, Son-Lan Development, to the builder, Greg Johnson, and to government inspectors.

The builder put up silt fences, but Barnard said that the water ripped right through. After county inspectors got involved, Johnson redesigned one driveway which now keeps water away from the house, but does nothing to control drainage through the homeowners' lawns.

"We waited to see what would happen when it rained after they did that and it's the same thing. The water just comes straight down," said Barnard.

The group told 5 On Your Side that Johnson and Son-Lan told them they just needed grass. So two homeowners put down sod.

"It actually ripped their sod out so far that it was down in our yard," said Barnard.

Barnard said that the homeowners' repeated complaints have reached a dead-end. She said Johnson told her, "It's not his problem, that he's not legally responsible, so therefore he's not going to come out here and put any money into it," she said.

Five On Your Side called Johnson who said, "I can't help water coming through the subdivision. All I can do is build houses."

Sonny Johnson of Son-Lan Development told 5 On Your Side that he is simply "not going to talk about it."

So how is this allowed? As unbelievable as it sounds, Johnston County representatives tell 5 On Your Side that when the part of Waverly Point was permitted back in 1999, the county did not regulate storm water control. It was just assumed that developers and builders would handle it.

"This is not an uncommon problem," according to John Holley of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"What I see there certainly appears to be very excessive runoff," he said after watching Barnard's video.

When asked if there is something wrong with the system that could cause that to happen, Holley said, "That's a very good question. I don't know that I'm qualified to answer the question. Certainly the fact that the problem exists is not a good thing."

Holley said that the lot sizes are too small to fall under state regulation, but his office does regulate sediment that was running into nearby wetlands.

Son-Lan was told to fix that problem and did so by adding rock-lined drainage ditches along the road.

The homeowners feel the ditches are an improvement, but they still do not stop the storm water from running through their front yards.

"We're just really worried about how our investment is going to work out with all these problems," said Barnard.

For now, the only real recourse the homeowners have is civil court.

For the record, Johnston County now has storm water control regulations. The people who enforce them say this case is a perfect example of why the regulations are needed and will hopefully prevent the problem from happening in the future.

It is one more thing to check out before buying a home.

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