Residents living in the Greens at Birkdale subdivision had an unwelcome surprise last week during the area’s summer thunderstorms: floods in their streets and yards carrying mounds of red dirt.
They are convinced that the stormwater runoff is being caused by construction on the adjacent property, where Robbins Park homes are being built.
“For the first time in 12 years, we actually had flooding on our streets with significant amounts of mud,” said Jonathan Boggiano, president of the Greens homeowners association. “This rain was brief. What is going to happen when it rains for three days straight or we get a 100-year storm? We really need to get these issues fixed.”
The Huntersville/Cornelius town limits bisect the community; the Robbins Park property, where private homes are being built, lies completely in Cornelius.
Cornelius officials are aware of the situation. According to Cornelius Planning Director Karen Floyd, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources is investigating the recent flooding incidents.
“Engineered plans were approved, and the site must meet those design standards,” Floyd said.
But that’s the problem, Boggiano said.
“Robbins Park has was permitted a long time ago, so they fall under old code rules. Their current stormwater management is actually built to their plan, which means we could be dealing with this type of runoff for a long time, or at least until they finish building out the development and put in their own water control measures.”
Boggiano did, however, have praise for Classica Homes, the Robbins Park developer.
“They had workers shoveling the mud off the streets and have both reinforced and upgraded the stormwater control measures at the end of Pennington Drive,” he said. “There is still work to be done, and they are getting the control measures in place as quickly as possible.”
Of greater concern are the long-term effects from the runoff. To address those, residents of the Greens have launched a campaign with Cornelius, the county and state to have the developer take additional measures to control the sediment from water that flows into their neighborhood when it rains.
Some of those measures could include seeding drainage ditches, installing check dams and pipe filters and installing filter sacks to keep mud from getting into the community.
Residents’ concern goes beyond just the homes and streets in the community. The Birkdale Village retention pond is within the community, and over the past week it has turned bright orange from all of the runoff and mud. The Greens developer spent nearly $400,000 within the past two years for upgrades at the pond.
“A whole lot of people in the community are very concerned about this,” said Art Rouse, past president of the Greens’ homeowners association, who has lived there since 1999. “We’ve never seen anything like it. How long will those retention pond improvements last if the mud-filled runoff continues whenever it rains?”
After meeting with the state, the town of Cornelius and county, neighborhood leaders seem resigned that some water will run off into their neighborhood from Robbins Park during heavy rains, even with the control measures.
“Unfortunately, we will likely have some runoff, but hopefully no more mud until the Robbins Park development is completed,” Boggiano wrote in an email to neighborhood residents, “at which time all of the water should flow to the bottom of the Robbins Park development.”