Trafalgar couple navigates drainage problems, says town hasn’t helped

Mike and Sharon Smith feel like they’ve been given the run-around by Trafalgar town officials.

For a couple months now, a house being built in the Crest Ridge Estates subdivision behind their property on Old State Road 252 has a 4-inch pipe that sits right against their property fence. The pipe pumps water straight into the Smiths’ yard, and floods the corner of their property, Mike Smith said.

The water leaves 6-foot wide and 20-foot deep wet spots when it rains any amount, and it has started to erode the grass in that part of the yard, he said.

The couple has lived at their house on a plot of farmland in Trafalgar for 25 years. They own acres of land and raise miniature horses on the farm.

The town of Trafalgar did little to help them, they say, despite both of them attending three different town meetings to ask for help.

The Smiths brought their concerns to the Trafalgar Town Council in May, asking for help because the drainage was damaging their yard. The town utility supervisor Lee Rodgers — who is resigning from the job later this month — said at the meeting that the town inspector, Tim Guyer, already spoke with the builders to redirect the pipe.

Mike Smith said nothing came from that. The town council then told the Smiths that Rodgers and Guyer would return to the properties, and town council president Jessica Jones would visit some point as well.

The town attorney then recommended Mike Smith ask the town plan commission to address the issue, as that board approved the subdivision plans in the first place.

At the plan commission meeting in June, Mike Smith again expressed his same concerns with the water pumping into his yard.

“I’m getting old crotchety, and I might decide to start digging a hole and pump it back,” Mike Smith said. “So, will you help me out please? I’m begging for help.”

The Smiths were then redirected again to the town council, as the plan commission did not have power to address the issue, Rodgers told them at the time. Guyer and Rodgers said at the meeting they would go look at the primary plat for Crest Ridge and look at the drainage map.

“I’m suggesting we just look it up, and see where it is supposed to dump … that’s my thought on helping you,” Guyer said.

Crest Ridge Estates was first platted for over 50 homes in 1989, according to plan documents from the Johnson County recorder’s office. Crest Ridge Estates 2 was platted in 2000, according to county documents. Part of the subdivision was re-platted in 2018 for additional three homes, which are being built out now. The plans include a 20-foot drainage easement between the subdivision and the Smiths’ property, according to the documents.

Mike Smith said he understands his property is expected to take on some water from the houses in Crest Ridge, and he understands the easement. His primary concern is the one house pumping water right along his fence, which he says should not be allowed. All the other houses pump toward the street, he said.

The Smiths found themselves again at the June 16 town council meeting to tell the council again about their concerns. The advice they were offered then was that the town would again review their concern and come up with a solution.

Rodgers said during the meeting that he reviewed the drainage plans, and said the subdivision was approved by the county in the 80s, and the town was not involved in the drainage plans. He also said the builder was contacted again, but he didn’t know if an agreement was met.

By the end of June, nothing had changed, Mike Smith said. No council member or town official had come to his property to look at the issue, he said.

“I’ve asked them as nicely as I could to please have their engineer — and I asked this of the council and the planning committee — to look at that whole subdivision back there,” Mike Smith said.

They both have felt like the town does not care about them during this process, and they are feeling pushed out by the subdivisions, Sharon Smith said.

“It feels like they’re far more important than we are,” Sharon Smith said.

Jones said she had been in contact with the Smiths since they first submitted their complaint. She said she didn’t personally review their issue, as she doesn’t have experience in how drainage or home building works, but said she referred their complaint to a family friend to review to help her offer advice. She also said the town reviewed their complaints.

“As far as the home that was causing issue to his property — our superintendent reported speaking to the builders and requesting that the redirect the issue away from Mr. Smith’s property,” Jones said in an email.

Jones also she she told them to work with the neighborhood’s homeowners association, and also advised they hire an attorney. She added that many residents in the town have drainage issues.

At the beginning of this month, Bryan Gregg, with the homeowner’s association at Crest Ridge, came to the Smiths property, and Mike Smith said they seemed to have “reached an agreement.”

The plan is the builder is supposed to cut the pipe back, and make a pit to put gravel in it, so the water does not disperse directly across the yard. Mike Smith said that a week later, he had not heard anything else about this, and no work has started at moving the pipe, he said. Gregg did not respond to requests for comment.

He still feels like he was given the runaround from the town, with little solutions, apart from being told to hire an attorney, he said.

“At this point, nothing has changed,” Mike Smith said.

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Emily Ketterer is the Daily Journal's multimedia news editor, and she covers the small towns and county government. She is a Johnson County native and a Franklin College alumna. When not at work, she enjoys watching Marvel movies, or trying to learn how to cook from the Food Network. She also loves Disney theme parks and is an annual passholder at Walt Disney World. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770. Follow her on Twitter: @Emily_Ketterer.