Neighbors' yards flooded with stormwater from Raleigh construction site; more than 40 complaints made against same developer
You can hear the sound of water trickling over dirt and rocks in Michelle Benammar’s Facebook Live video.
"It’s a river going to my house," she said in the video.
The ‘river’ she’s talking about is a stream of water being pumped out from a retention pond at a construction site directly toward her backyard.
Benammar said that’s happened twice since D.R. Horton started building a townhome development off Thornton Road in northeast Raleigh, causing her yard and a neighbor's yard to flood.
Benammar said she fought this development from the start, going to rezoning meetings and speaking out against it.
Now, she said her worst fears about the effect it could have on her home are becoming reality.
When the pond was drained and she noticed the flooding happening in her yard, she started a Facebook Live and documented everything from how the water was being directed toward her property to the pooling in her yard and how it continued flowing all the way to her cul-de-sac.
"This is them draining this pond and all the water is going to my house, downhill," Benammar said in the clip.
The water nearly reached her home.
"My husband and my neighbor were out here digging trenches because, they had like, literally an inch to where it was about to come into their dining room, and ours was getting close," she told 5 On Your Side during an interview.
After the second time it happened, Benammar hoped that was it. But the pond was being drained so a permanent drain pipe could be installed. That pipe pointed directly at Benammar’s home.
She said her backyard has been like a swamp ever since.
The second time the WRAL 5 On Your Side team visited Benammar’s home, water was still flowing from the pipe, through the back yard and out to the street even though it had not rained in about 24 hours.
"There was not anything wrong with that from an engineering compliance standpoint," said Wayne Miles, Raleigh’s stormwater program manager.
Miles told WRAL 5 On Your Side that during construction it's the hardest time to control stormwater but that the contractor is in compliance with all city regulations -- and those regulations are more strict than the state’s minimum regulations.
"After the construction is done, and the permanent stormwater controls are in place, I would expect the stormwater impacts to be less than this," Miles said.
The developer, D.R. Horton, sent this statement about the situation:
"D.R. Horton is aware of the drainage issues at and around our Thornton Road Towns community. We have been researching this issue for an extended period of time at our own expense and attempting to resolve any prior and potential issues. However, the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation department would not approve during the planning process, nor will they approve now, what we believe is the best solution. As an alternative, the City has agreed to allow us to install all outlet erosion control measures now, in lieu of at final acceptance. Our subcontractor has been notified, is ordering the materials and will begin the work as soon as reasonably possible once the materials are procured. The final measures decided upon include a level spreader, which will take the direct flow from the pond and spread it out over a wider area. This should mimic the more natural flow of water that has always been present in this area, resulting in potentially less water during a normal rain event and a similar amount of water during a high rain event. D.R. Horton remains committed to building quality homes and neighborhoods in the greater Raleigh area and across the United States."
"I don’t believe anything they say now," Benammar said in response to the statement.
She said she’s skeptical because D.R. Horton has had stormwater control problems in the past, including at completed projects.
D.R. Horton completed the Siena Townhome development on Highway 98 in Wake Forest. Since then, neighbors whose property backs up to Siena have been reporting flooding problems for months, but they continue.
WRAL 5 On Your Side also found construction site flooding complaints against D.R. Horton near Wilmington that were very similar to Benammar’s.
Overall, D.R. Horton has 47 complaints with the North Carolina Attorney General since 2016.
D.R. Horton did not respond to our specific questions about complaints, other than Benammar’s.
Her biggest concern now is with her yard staying so wet for so long, a tree could come down on her house or her foundation could be damaged.
Changing Raleigh’s stormwater control regulations would have to come from city council.
Councilwoman Megan Patton, who represents Benammar and her neighbors, told WRAL 5 On Your Side she is asking stormwater staff if revisions can be made to prevent this from happening in the future.
We’re told proposed changes could be brought to council this fall.