2013 News for Pawleys Island, Litchfield and Murrells Inlet
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Drainage: Hagley residents want pipe to fill open ditches

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Most residents of Sandy Knowe Lane are upset about wide ditches that were dug in front of their houses as part of the Hagley community drainage project.

Residents asked county officials at a meeting Monday at Midway Fire and Rescue on Beaumont Drive why they didn’t get underground pipes in front of their yards like many of their neighbors. Most left the meeting unsatisfied with project manager David Gantt’s explanation that pipes would not handle enough stormwater and yards would flood.

Sandy Knowe Lane, Gantt said, is at the top of Hagley’s 400-acre watershed. The project, designed to handle water from a 25-year storm, began with the installation of large pipes across Kings River Road at the Heritage Plantation lake system. Work followed the natural flow of water to Sandy Knowe Lane near its intersection with Highway 17, the high point of the watershed.

“It’s never a perfect process,” Gantt told the residents. “Every site is different. Every project is different.”

He said Sandy Knowe is a dirt road without a defined drainage system. “We had an existing open ditch without good drainage,” Gantt said. “A pipe system was not selected for this roadway. The engineer was matching what was already out there. I know you are not happy, but I do believe there are some benefits to the system. Hydraulically, it will solve a 25-year drainage event. The road is accessible for you guys, accessible for emergency services, and that’s a lot that went into the design.”

After hearing complaints about the new ditches, Gantt said he looked at an underground pipe system with catch basins for the road. “In order to make a drain pipe system work,” Gantt said, “we would have to raise the road about a foot. The lots on both sides are lower than the catch basins. The purpose is to get water out. This isn’t getting water out. The roadway would look nice, but the properties would flood on either side.”

Residents said they felt slighted by the county in view of the work done along other roads in Hagley. The width of the new drainage ditches — some property owners said they were 11 feet wide — present a safety hazard, they said.

“Does your house have a ditch in front of it?” Sandy Knowe Lane resident Karen Ogden asked Gantt. “It’s not a ditch. It’s a pit.”

Ron Rader and other residents said designers didn’t take into consideration how water flows through the neighborhood.

“I’ve been there 20 years,” Rader said. “All the water runs down the left side. You never thought about that. You never thought about safety with all the big ditches. What about kids? My mother is 85 years old. What if she comes and drives into that ditch? I don’t have the luxury of seven or eight pieces of pipe in front of my house like some people do. It’s ridiculous. That’s what we are upset about.”

Rader said he wanted something nice in front of his house. “We live in Pawleys Island. We don’t live in a trailer park in Andrews, with all due respect, sir,” he said, motioning to County Administrator Sel Hemingway, a resident of Andrews. “We want something nice. I grew up in Maryville. I wanted something a little nicer. That’s why I moved to Pawleys Island. Now we’ve got a big ditch. That’s not what we want. You could make it work if you wanted to. You don’t want to. It comes down to dollars and cents. We pay taxes just like everybody else, probably more than anybody. Waccamaw Neck pays 70 percent of this county’s taxes. Why can’t we get what we want rather than what you guys want us to settle for?”

Geraldine Cox said she worries that the bigger ditches on Sandy Knowe Lane will cause flooding in her yard. “This project is an ungodly sight,” she said. “When it comes down there to my house, you shove every bit of water in 10-foot ditches at me.”

Gantt said the drainage system’s design was based on good engineering practice. “You are not going to have those issues any more,” he said.

Cox asked Gantt to put his promise in writing.

Jamie Vanderlip was one of the few residents at the meeting who said he would benefit from the new ditches. He hauled in dirt to crown his lot before building a house. “The ditch will stop the water from crossing the road and diverting to Mrs. Cox’s property,” he said.

Gantt said county contractors are finishing up the last details of the project before hydroseeding the ditch banks to stabilize them.

“If we missed something,” Gantt said, “we’ll work with you.”

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