Knoxville couple says new development next door turned dream home into disaster

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A young Knoxville couple says their dream home and property are ruined. They moved to a secluded area just months before bulldozers started clearing property next to their home last year.

On the big hill high above Dan Brown’s backyard, heavy equipment operators are busy moving dirt and leveling the surface for what will be Hickory Crest subdivision. More than 50 homes will soon be part of the Hickory Crest subdivision being developed some 20 feet above the Browns’ property in West Knoxville. The scene is heartbreaking for his wife Keri Brown.

“It was serene, beautiful and peaceful and just enjoying the nature. We have four kids,” she said.

Keri Brown says her children once enjoyed their backyard, but not now, especially when it rains and floods their yard.

“They raised the hill. Now we have all these erosion problems because there are no trees,” said Keri Brown.

Two trees still stand where once there had been hundreds. The neighboring property was stripped of trees.

“It’s just one disaster after another really. Just last week we had heavy rain for a couple of days and it came under our fence,” she said.

The engineering firm in charge of the project has piled up mulch, ground up trees, along the property line to help slow the flow of mud and water.

“There is no retaining pond, ditch, ravine or anything. All the runoff comes onto our land. It erodes and pools in that area over this little tree line,” said Dan Brown.

In an effort to contain the mud flow, a silt fence has been constructed to catch the storm water runoff and property developers laid matting, with grass seeds tied in, along the 15 to 20 foot high hill that meets the Browns’ property.

“I don’t see that it does anything. Half of it has washed away in sheets. They keep putting it back, laying it flat,” said Keri Brown.

“The way it is right now it all runs off and uses our pasture as a retaining pond,” said Dan Brown.

WATE 6 On Your Side contacted the engineering firm that designed and surveyed the subdivision. Batson, Himes, Norvell, and Poe said they’re “working to eliminate the erosion problem.” They say it’s an “awkward time” right now, but “once the grass begins to grow along the slope – with two or three weeks of good weather – that will help decrease the erosion and water runoff.”

The engineering company said they plan to add a swale at the top edge of the development that will catch the water and direct it away from the hill. However, the Browns would like to see more efforts made by the developer to protect their property.

“Push it down, add trees. We need some sort of ravine where water can drain out, like they do beside a road,” said Keri Brown.

As the couple sees it right now, the value of their dream home and property has plummeted.

“We’re frozen here. Even if we wanted to sell this property which we don’t, we’re frozen. There is no common sense when they designed this. It’s not right,” said Dan Brown.

The engineering firm said it’s doing what it can to protect the Browns’ property and will do even more. The company said they’re following plans approved last year by the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission. The Browns trust the developers to make their improvements sooner rather than later.

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