Homeowners and residents of Battlefield Estates expressed extreme concerns regarding excessive flooding in the area spilling into their homes and pleaded to the Madison County Fiscal Court to address it.
During last week's regularly scheduled meeting, several residents spoke during public comment explaining the damage to their homes due to flooding and excessive rainfall.
One of which was Bob Whitaker, who has owned property on General Nelson Drive in Battlefield since 2016.
He told the court that prior to this year, he hadn't experienced as great of a problem that he was now facing, stating only sometimes would the creeks overflow.
However, in July of 2019, the creek overflowed so bad it came up to their foundation taking in about six inches of water in their crawl space.
"Based on my observations, the flooding is caused by the retention ponds not draining enough," he said.
He and his wife were told the issue for flooding had been turned over to a state mitigation.
"So my wife called their office and found out that they are not going to fix the flooding issue, that it is not their job," he recalled. "Rather, they work with federal money for the acquisition of distressed properties due to flooding."
He said they weren't able to qualify for that because they didn't meet the criteria of having to have flood insurance at the time the flood occurred and extensive damage had to be done to the home.
"In any event, we don't want to sell our home," Whitaker said. "We live here, our kids went to school here and they are still going up to (University of Kentucky). We want the problem fixed. And I don't believe the county selling the golf course absolves the county from being responsible from a pre-existing condition."
Another resident of General Nelson Drive, Doug Wyatt, spoke about his flooding issue, which he called "devastating."
He told the court his walk-out finished basement with a kitchen, study, two bedrooms, an office, a bathroom and family room has been completely destroyed due to flooding.
The property, which is owned by Wyatt's employer, was hoping to sell the home after updates were made to the basement contributing $30,000 to help finish.
"The first four years we were there we were safe and comfortable," he said. "But then in February (of 2019), our nightmare began. And our nightmare has continued five floods. Every flood, all five of those, all of them entered our home and our entire basement was covered with water all five times."
Wyatt's family also lost personal possessions and family heirlooms that were stored in the basement that he said even if he had insurance those items were irreplaceable.
"This is our new normal, and this should be no one's normal," he said. "...We should be citizens volunteering to the county, not needing volunteers to help us ...If you had told us when we were moving there you were not going to take care of our problems, we would have never moved there.
"I call on you in the county to only take responsibility as you have admitted to in one of your meetings. But act on this and solve the problem -- I cannot keep living like this."
Others spoke about the same issue with sharing similar experiences and noting they had documents which stated their properties were not located on a floodplain.
County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor responded to the comments saying the county had done a hydraulic study on the area, and at the time of the floods, his thought process was that it might be the responsibility of the county.
"We are sympathetic to you guys and situation you are in, and we are wanting to help, but I also have laws I have to follow and tax dollars that I have to spend and I have to make sure we do it properly," Taylor said.
Previously, Taylor said, several of the people who spoke during the comment portion had met with the judge and the parks director establishing a plan to move forward, stating again they didn't know if it was the responsibility of the county.
"We don't control the weather. We don't control how much it rains at one time. Floodplains change all the time, I mean, year after year these flood areas change, the areas change," he said. "Several that have been affected by this either had, or still have today, flood insurance."
He said it has come to the point where the court has received attorney letters from residents and that with legal guidance it could be perceived as a threat, causing the county to step back and say, "The attorneys have to work it out."
"I am going to continue to try and move forward to see what we as a government by law can do and can't do," Taylor said. "I mean we have had conversations with certified, professional engineers that we hired to do these hydraulic studies that have programs."
It was suggested to include a spillway and lower the pond at the golf course for some reprieve, but in an email sent from the county's engineer, it was found those would have "very little effect" on the homes upstream from pipes that were flooding.
Taylor said a majority of the homeowners stated flooding had not occurred prior to 2019, and he was having engineers conduct studies to see if the county had experienced the same type of rainfall in previous years.
"I don't like speculation, I don't like to say, 'Hey this has never happened before,' unless it is based off facts," the judge said. "So we are continuing to look to try and find a solution."
He invited the speakers back to the next meeting, saying he would have the engineers present to get the presentation out to the public.
The next meeting will be held on Jan. 28, 9:30 a.m., at the Madison County Courthouse located at 101 West Main St. in Richmond.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.