News 4 Investigates: Flooded Neighborhood - KMOV.com

News 4 Investigates: Flooded Neighborhood

The homes on Pearl Ridge Court are built in a natural bowl.

The bowl also has a natural drain, a sinkhole that's supposed to funnel excess water out of the neighborhood through caves below the street. But the drainage apparently can't get the job done. So, it backs up and flooding occurs.

Sometimes, the water is deep enough to block access to several homes. The flooding has also created other problems, including backing up the sewage system and forcing raw sewage into basements.

Everyone agrees that it's a mess.

The question is: Who is responsible and how can it be fixed?

The problem shouldn't have surprised the builder or the city of St. Charles.

Three decades ago, a geologist for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources warned against developing the area because it was "inevitable that the ponding and flooding problems will increase." He conducted the study at the request of St. Charles County.

Twenty three years after that study, the area was within the city limits of St. Charles, which approved development for the same area. Mayor Patty York says she didn't know about the study until we told her during our on-camera interview.

Almost immediately after building the first homes, residents complained about flooding.

In 2000, the city sent the first in a series of letters to builder Easton Wade. The letters became increasingly confrontational.

In 2003, the city began filing charges against Wade for violating city ordinances. Court records show Wade paid $950 in fines.

The city's effort to fix the problem has been held back by turnover on the city council. Mayor York says the turnover lead to different plans on how to deal with the Pearl Ridge drainage and despite spending about $300,000 the city has not been able to eliminate flooding there.

The residents sued Wade and settled for court costs and some money to pay for damages to their homes.

The city and Wade are still involved in a lawsuit. Wade declined to talk to us about the flooding, the drainage or the lawsuit.

Mayor York and Laurie Feldman, the Councilwoman for that part of St. Charles, insist the city will do what it can to prevent sewage backup problems. The city may raise the lift station so that flood water can't get in it, which would probably prevent much of the basement flooding farther away from the sinkhole.

However, it appears city officials are against spending a load of money to blast in the sinkhole in an effort to create better drainage. The city blames Wade, who faults the city for approving his plan, which means the legal stalement continues and so does the problem.

Three years ago, the Missouri DNR told the city it needed to fix the problem. Last week, DNR sent the city another letter demanding that St. Charles come up with a plan to fix the drainage problem within 30 days.

So, are the folks on Pearl Ridge finally going to get the problem solved?

Mayor York admits "the biggest problem is we can't guarantee we can fix it."

Place your bets.


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