“I was here before anything else was here,” James Wise said of his Meadowbrook Drive home.
When he moved in, there were only seven houses on his street.
Dockery Lane only had three houses and the rest of the land was farm pasture and fields.
Wise said he did not know the neighborhood was planned for annexation by the city when he bought the house.
“To tell you the truth I’ve been fighting this for 30 years,” Wise said.
He said the flooding of his and others on his street have increased since a subdivision was built on a hill off of Eleanor Drive in 1976.
Water from the hill and Blue Springs Road meet in a culvert at the corner. A pipe takes the water under Blue Springs Road and into a ditch behind houses on Meadowbrook Drive.
Wise moved to his home in 1961. A ditch ran along the back of his property.
“There was over five feet in my yard that was nothing but a big gully, so I put the tile in, in order to stop that,” Wise said.
The neighbor next to him on the side from where the water flows also installed a pipe in order to be able to fill in the ditch.
“For them to say that the 12-inch tile [pipe] caused it, is a joke,” Wise said.
There is nearly 600 feet of open ditch along the neighbors’ backyards before getting to the 12-inch pipe.
He said when he installed the pipe it was large enough to handle the flow of water. Wise also installed a culvert to the side of his yard to allow water to flow out of the pipe.
These days, water is not making it to the pipe. Instead, it is overflowing the ditch into yards.
A neighbor who lives between Wise and Blue Springs also experiences flooding. The water flows into a ditch behind her yard. However, the volume of water is causing the water to flood her property.
The water is flowing across yards, taking pine cones and debris with it. Wise said he cut the bottom of his chain fence to allow the water to flow better.
“We pay city and county taxes both, so we should get some help,” neighbor Jane Underwood said.
Wise said although he has been told it is illegal to reroute water from its natural flow downhill, he feels this is what has been done with water from Blue Springs Road and Eleanor Drive.
Wise has approached both the Cleveland City Council and the Bradley County Commission about the issue. Documentation from a recent City Council meeting stated that Cleveland Public Works Director Tommy Myers was getting cost estimates for a solution.
Wise said he would not be in favor of taking the pipe out and leaving a ditch in its place.
“That’s [removing an existing pipe] out of the question,” Wise said. “Why would I go through all this and spend all this money to have my yard washed away again? That would be stupid.”
If the Public Works Department comes up with a more favorable solution, Wise has a list of property owners willing to grant easements to have the issue resolved.
Wise said he would be fine with the city replacing the 12-inch pipe with a larger one.
Wise said the solution lies in fixing drainage ditches on Blue Springs Road in such a way that excess water does not flow into the Meadowbrook Drive drainage ditch. There are ditches that need to be mowed, cleaned out or made deeper, according to Wise.
“Go up there and clean up the ditches,” he suggested. “I have tried to get them to put a split-T on the water so that it evenly divided the water [from Eleanor Drive] evenly going down both sides of Blue Springs Road.”
He said this would allow the water to flow rather than being forced into the Meadowbrook Drive drainage ditches.
His backyard fence marks the city/county line.
The city has implemented a stormwater fee to address flooding issues out of the city. Wise said this would have been a less expensive approach than he and his neighbors paying for everything themselves. Even with the implementation of the fee, Wise seemed skeptical that any projects would come to his area of town.