Proposed housing development next to neighborhood flooded by Florence has families worried

Proposed housing development next to neighborhood flooded by Florence has families worried

LELAND, NC (WECT) - A proposed housing development next to a neighborhood that flooded during Hurricane Florence has residents concerned about future flooding dangers being made worse.

The new neighborhood, composed of between 100 and 120 townhomes across 27 buildings, would be built in Leland by Bishops Ridge LLC on Hazels Branch Road near U.S. Highway 17. The townhomes would be next to Stoney Creek Plantation and Snee Farm.

The Town of Leland is considering a development agreement with the developer in which the town would pay up to $100,000 and provide sewer service, and in return receive about $80,000 in annual tax revenue and an economic boost to the community.

Karen Gaughan and her husband built their family home in Stoney Creek in 2001, and Karen shared her concerns about the new development in a letter to the mayor and town council.

“I’m not opposed to new developments. What we are concerned with is, we are not able to locate any studies that have been done with what the stormwater drainage would be for that area," said Gaughan.

The Gaughans and their neighbors want to see specific research about how the development could impact flooding in future catastrophic storms like Hurricane Florence. Karen Gaughan is worried that adding more impervious surface would worsen the flood drainage into her neighborhood.

She is also concerned about the new development’s sewer system being tied into Stoney Creek’s system, which has pumps that failed and leaked sewage during Florence.

“Is there something that could be done now or in the future to prevent future flooding from happening?" Gaughan asked. “We are just concerned there is not that level of information for that new development coming in.”

During the Leland Town Council meeting on Thursday, the town manager and town council members said research is underway by town staff and the developer.

Town council member Michael Callahan suggested the town look for previous hurricane data about those areas. The town manager replied that data is being researched.

“I’m very happy that the town has been listening to those of us in Stoney Creek and our concerns and are getting some in-depth studies done in the area where the flooding specifically was during Florence," said Gaughan.

Chris Wimble, who moved to Stoney Creek three years ago, is living in an RV in his front yard after his house was ruined by flooding. He too is worried about the proposed development.

“We hate to see any new development going in here, just because there’s going to be nowhere for the water to go after that happens," Wimble said. “We’d hate to see anybody else get flooded out.

“There’s a lot of talk of a FEMA buyout here in this development and we would definitely want that to happen because nobody wants to live in this development right now."

Leland Town Council decided to postpone the public hearing and possible vote until Nov. 25.

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