Farmington Resident Files Suit Over Drainage Issues

FARMINGTON -- A Farmington resident who has filed a civil suit in Washington County Circuit Court against the city, developers and engineers relating to the Goose Creek Village development gave notice to the City Council last week that she is not going away.

Phyllis Young filed the original lawsuit July 15, 2022, through her attorneys, David Dixon of Dixon Law Firm and Daniel Ingram of Ingram Law Firm, both of Farmington, and an amended complaint on Sept. 15, 2022.

In the complaint, Young alleges that stormwater drainage from the subdivision off Double Springs Road has increased the amount and the velocity of water runoff directly onto her property at 546 Goose Creek Road, causing damage due to flooding, mud and trash.

The lawsuit requests a preliminary injunction prohibiting further construction and prohibiting the city from approving further construction.

Young and several others who live on Goose Creek Road attended the Dec. 19 Farmington Planning Commission meeting to speak against the preliminary plat for 101 lots in Phase 5 of Goose Creek Village. After a heated discussion, the commission voted to table the preliminary plat until its Jan. 23 meeting.

Young stood before the council Jan. 9 during its public comment period and said she would attend the planning commission meeting to once again object to the approval of Phase 5 for Goose Creek Village.

"Currently this subdivision is running most of its drainage onto my property," Young told council members. "If it is approved, I will be here in front of you next month, asking you not to approve it."

She added, "I trusted the city when they continued to tell me that everything would be good for the two years it took for the drainage system to be completed. When it wasn't good, I expected the city to help me, as a long-term citizen of Farmington, to get this corrected. I have been ignored by the city up to this point. I am asking 'you' (strong emphasis on you) to do your due diligence as city council members not to approve any more houses to be built in Goose Creek Village until the drainage issue has been corrected."

Young then promised to continue to be at each city council meeting to make the same request of "each and every one of you."

Young's lawsuit names as defendants the City of Farmington, Riggins Construction of NWA, Inc., Double Springs Development, LLC, Red Canyon Development, LLC, Riggins Properties, Inc., Jorgensen and Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc., Olsson Associates, KMS Consulting Engineers, LLC, and John Does 1-3.

The 25-page amended complaint names "factual allegations" that Young has about 72 acres bordering Goose Creek Village subdivision to the west and the southwest with a portion of her property in a lower elevation than the subdivision property.

She says she inherited the property from her parents and has resided on it for more than 60 years. She has worked the property, hunted on it and raised cattle on it and is familiar with the property, including its drainage characteristics and history, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit notes that Goose Creek Village is a development with a total of about 126 acres. So far, about 80 houses have been built in the suvdivision with 300 more houses expected to be built.

In the complaint, Young says she first learned the subdivision would be built in January 2019 and attended a planning commission meeting in February 2019 to express her concerns with possible flooding from the construction and the adequacy of the drainage plans.

She was assured by engineers, according to the lawsuit, that the subdivision would not cause any increased waterflow onto her property and that a planned detention pond also would prevent any increased water flow.

The lawsuit says that "confirming Young's concerns," her property was damaged and the valley floor flooded during a Dec. 17, 2021, rain event. The property had never flooded before this date, Young claims in the lawsuit, noting that since construction the valley has experienced six flooding events.

The detention pond and culverts for the drainage system are centralizing all water from the subdivision into one discharge location and, compared to preconstruction water runoff, have "greatly increased the amount of velocity of water" coming onto her property, the lawsuit states.

Prior to construction, water drained in multiple different locations across the subdivision but now, due to the paving of the subdivision, stormwater is being diverted into a centralized location that discharges directly onto her property, according to the lawsuit.

Young claims that the mayor has never personally reached out about her concerns and that to date none of the defendants have provided a "sufficient" response to her concerns or taken any action to correct the damage.

The lawsuit has 10 claims, with the last claim asking the court to stop further construction of the subdivision by the developers and to stop the city and its engineers from further approving additional construction.

Other claims are inverse condemnation against the city, gross negligence against the city, negligence against the developers, construction companies and engineering companies, trespass against the developers and nuisance against the developers.

Several of the defendants have filed answers to the complaint where they deny the allegations and ask that the complaint be dismissed.

Mayor Ernie Penn last week said he could not comment because of the pending lawsuit. In a text, Penn said the city would be represented in the lawsuit by Brie Gibson, an attorney with the Arkansas Municipal League.

No court dates for any hearings have been set yet.

According to archives with the Enterprise-Leader, Phase 1 of Goose Creek Village has 51 lots; Phase 2, 57 lots; Phase 3, 62 lots; Phase 4, 59 lots.

The planning commission has dealt with other issues when it comes to Goose Creek Village. The commission tabled approving the final plat of Phase 1 and the preliminary plat for Phase 2 in November 2020, because of neighbor complaints about trash and noise coming from the construction and because one section of the drainage system had not been installed as required at that time.

Both requests were then approved at the commission's December 2020 meeting.