City businesses concerned about flooding problems

By Julie Fann
star staff

Two Elizabethton business owners are concerned about severe flooding problems they say are a direct result of road repairs the city performed on Lynn Avenue and Mill Street approximately 1.5 years ago.
   Rick Smith, vice president of Tri-City Plating, 705 North Lynn Ave., said yesterday that, since the city widened Lynn Avenue and elevated Mill Street, his flooding problems have worsened significantly.
   "It's always flooded about five or six inches when it rains, but now, we're talking about two to three feet of water inside and around the building," he said. "And there's only one drain. The water comes down from McDonald's on Broad Street and right into this parking lot."
   Chuck Carrier, president, said the elevation of Mill Street and widening of Lynn Avenue created what he called a "crown" effect, so that water traveling from Broad Street that would normally flow away from his property is, instead, diverted onto it.
   "It's (Mill Street) about six inches higher, effecting the flow of water," he said.
   Carrier said damages cost a few thousand dollars every time flooding occurs, which is every time it rains more than one inch.
   "We have a 25 ton boiler that the water's getting up on. It was two feet under water once and ran that way for awhile before it finally kicked a breaker, so, if someone would have walked in there...," Carrier said.
   Smith and Carrier said they have talked to City Manager Charles Stahl. They said several other business owners had questioned the flooding problem and were told it would be fixed.
   "Charles Stahl said I'd just have to do what I had to do to protect my property. I mean, he was nice, but that was his exact words," Smith said.
   Carrier said the men are considering building a retaining wall to prevent the water from flowing into their property.
   "But if we do, it'll wash that man (referring to the owner of Dixie Battery at 706 Lynn Avenue) right out of his business. It (the water) would get six feet deep in his building," Carrier said.
   "I mean, what comes off our building and our property is our problem, but they've (the city) turned all the water from the top of the hill at McDonald's down onto us," Carrier said.
   Tri-City Plating employs approximately 30 people.
   Sonnie B. Mottern, owner of Dixie Battery located across Lynn Avenue from Tri-City Plating, said his business has also been damaged by flooding since work was done on Lynn Avenue.
   "After they re-done the streets, it flooded us. It came in the back door and the end door, and it come right up to the steps. It flooded back in our warehouse, too," Mottern said.
   Ruth Lewis, co-owner, said the city sewer line also flooded their building.
   "When they first did the road, they just cut it (the sewer line) off, and after awhile it's going to go somewhere. It was running over the floors," Lewis said. "The city gave us the stuff to fix it with, but we had to hire a plumber to do the work."
   Stahl said the owners of Tri-City Plating had contacted him, but that he had not heard a complaint from the owners of Dixie Battery.
   "Any improvements to storm drainage at Broad and Lynn would be associated with a future project that would be dependent on widening and improvements to Lynn Avenue; being mindful of the fact that the section of Lynn Avenue from Broad to the bridge is State Route 400, and the section from Broad to Elk Avenue is under the city's jurisdiction, exclusively a local project," Stahl said.