The Limestone County Commission has called a special meeting for Monday, Jan. 10, to vote on the final approval for Ricketts Farm Phase II off of Jones Road, north of Pepper Road, in District 2. That vote will not come without some local residents voicing opposition.
For one resident of Jones Road, the developers of the subdivision, Goodall Homes based in Gallatin, Tenn., have not been very neighborly since beginning work on Phase I.
Shirley Johnson has lived in her old farmhouse on Jones Road for almost 50 years. The farmhouse Johnson lives in belonged to the Ricketts family for which the new subdivision is named. From her kitchen table, she pointed to the red stains left behind by recent flooding. Since the property behind her home has been under development, she claims her yard and the buildings behind her home flood every time it rains.
“I've been after them for over a year, since they started it. They tore all the natural vegetation and all the terraces down and flattened it,' Johnson said.
The result of the clearing for the new development, according to Johnson, is the disruption in the natural flow of water and its redirection into her yard. In photos taken by Johnson's daughter, the flood waters are red, like the color of the mud at the work site.
“It got in the building out back. My son who passed away four years ago, that was his shop,” she said. Upset by what she was experiencing, Johnson called Goodall Homes.
“I said 'I need to speak to the main person that is developing the subdivision out here on Jones Road.' He said, 'That would be me.' I told him 'There has been a big rain and I understand the flood but I can't even get out the back door to get to my car to go to work. I am having to sweep the water out of the backdoor to keep it from getting in the house. I want to know what you are going to do about it?'
Johnson said that the person she was speaking to explained that he was on vacation and promised to call her back when he returned.
“I called and called but nobody ever called me back. My daughter, she did the same thing and nobody called her back. My preacher, he contacted two women from Goodall Homes and they were going to call him back but they never called him back,” she said. Johnson does not know the name of the man she spoke to on the phone.
“They never made me empty promises. They just ignored me. They figure since I'm an elderly women, I live here by myself, they'll just keep on until I sell my place. It'll be a cold day in hell before they get it. I've been here 50 years,” Johnson said.
Johnson called District 2 Commissioner Danny Barksdale and he began looking into the matter.
“I don't like developers running roughshod over our citizens,” Barksdale said. “Fix the ditch is all I want.”
While surveying the property line between Johnson’s property and the new development Wednesday morning, Jan. 5, Barksdale was approached by Kevin Atwood, a land manager from Goodall Homes. He was at the site was with a crew creating a berm in hopes of forming a barrier to help redirect the water.
Barksdale asked Atwood if it was the Limestone County Commission’s approval or poor engineering that caused the problem.
“The original plan does not show a ditch here. The water, it’s designed to go between each house. As you come down the hill, each house has a drain that goes out to the street,” Atwood said to Barksdale.
Barksdale was thankful for their efforts but voiced his disappointment in the length of time it took for Goodall Homes to respond.
“I hate that it took so long, too. We want to be a good neighbor. That’s her home,” Atwood said.
According to Atwood, Goodall Homes made efforts to avoid Johnson’s septic system by installing a pipe that will drain the water. According to Johnson, she has had to pay more than $700 monthly to have her septic tank pumped. She also reports seeing the pipes covered with hay by the developers prior to big rains in an effort to keep garbage from going in them. She is also seeing the hay being pulled from clogged pipes afterwards.
Johnson was pleased to see the developers making an effort to fix the problem Wednesday but is upset that it took well more than a year for a response.
“Evidently, whatever he (Barksdale) said made them do this,” Johnson said. “They just ignored me.”
Even if the flooding is stopped by the berm created Wednesday, at this point, Johnson said that is not enough as damage has been done.
“I’m not wanting to fight with them. I just wanted it fixed. Now, money I don't have. … I had to borrow money and it makes me sick. This was my kids’ home. You can see out the backdoor where its floods. Everything is covered with that red mud. I want everything cleaned up,” she said.