Despite record rain levels that fell on Bryan County last weekend, not one Richmond Hill home was flooded and virtually all the water ran off the city streets in due time, according to Richmond Hill City Manager Mike Melton, a last-minute addition to Tuesday’s city council agenda.
Mayor Richard Davis said he invited Melton to join the meeting to discuss a study that the two conducted over the weekend, along with engineers from Carter and Sloop.
Melton said he and Davis personally observed and studied every neighborhood in the city during what they said was the heaviest rainfall since 1994. They said this was a unique opportunity to see first-hand how the city’s drainage system could perform in extreme circumstances.
Some of the areas Melton identified as having flooded streets included Pierceville Drive, especially at the lower end of Osprey and Whipperwill; Main Street’s flooded entrance way that had three cars visibly stuck; Turtle Hill, in the newer subdivision off Harris Trail Road; River Oaks, which received 12 inches of water, and water in the conjoined area of Hwy. 144 as well.
The study ventured into neighboring areas of county land as well, including Strathy Hall that had three or four areas completely underwater; Buckhead; and Rabbit Hill Road, where "some of the worst areas were, including one home near Hwy. 144 that was flooded," Melton said.
The heavy rainfall came several days before the city’s scheduled Wednesday meeting with engineering firm Carter and Sloop to discuss the city’s preliminary stormwater master plan.
Three representatives from Carter-Sloop were in attendance at the council meeting. Andy Seaver from the firm spoke at the meeting and reiterated much of what Melton said regarding the efficiency in which the accumulated water in the city had drained.
Melton said the meeting on Wednesday went well and is "just the beginning of the process to adopt the master plan that we have been working on for about a year."He said the plan, which was initiated by council, "will require a great deal of engineering work to design a grid of drainage basins throughout the city. It will show us where improvement
need to be made and serve as a guide for how to move forward, in regard to drainage, for the next 10 to 20 years of development."
Two residents from Rushing Street Station subdivision spoke to council about drainage problems in their neighborhood. Rushing Homeowner’s Association President Michael Vreeland said the subdivision has had ongoing drainage issues for years, that this has also caused damage to the roads in the neighborhood and questioned why developer Lamar Smith has not corrected the issue.
Davis said the roads are in the process of being fixed and the city, along with Smith, have a plan to fix the drainage which entails getting consent from some residents for a city easement. Melton said some residents have not responded with consent which has stalemated the work. Melton gave the names of those individuals to Vreeland in hopes he could garner a response.
Smith said he has been diligently working on the issue. "We’ve done three engineering studies on this issue and we’ve also coordinated with city engineers to tie into their improvement plan," he said. "This has taken two years thus far, so I completely understand the frustration of the homeowners. I’d feel the same way if I were them."
In other business:
• The Colonial Marsh issue was tentatively on the schedule, but was pulled due to a late development. Melton said everything has been worked out, but the attorney for Colonial Marsh developer Ellis Skinner requested a public hearing before bringing the issue before council. Melton said the terms of the rezoning of Colonial Marsh will be voted on in a council meeting following the public hearing.
The request for a public hearing has yet to be filed by Skinner or his attorney.