CAROLINA BEACH — Stormwater flooding has been a long-time complaint of residents in Carolina Beach but now, homeowners are taking their complaints to court.
James and Barbara Miller are suing the town for a “failure to maintain a storm water drainage system and failure to properly plan for and control storm water.”
The case was filed at the end of 2019, and is still in its early phase — the Town of Carolina Beach has until Feb. 15 to respond to the plaintiff’s complaints.
Background and the complaint
The Miller’s built their home in the late ’90s and since then the home has been surrounded by a 10-foot drainage easement.
In that easement, there is a “stormwater pipe which was installed to drain water from the northern end of Birch Court to Defendant’s storm water line located under the intersection of Bay Court and Beech Court,” according to the lawsuit.
At some point in 2015 that pipe failed, the lawsuit claims. After that failure, the Town of Carolina Beach approved the new subdivision known as The Glenn, which is located to the south of the Miller’s home.
Following the development of the new neighborhood as well as the pipe’s failure, so-called ‘ponding’ started to occur at the base of their cul-du-sac.
In 2017 the town installed a new stormwater drain line to “carry storm water from the north end of Birch Court to an existing storm water line located at the intersection of Birch Bay and Bay Court.” But this new line was ineffective according to the lawsuit.
Soon after that, the homeowners noticed excess moisture in their crawlspace and alleged it was due to the increased water channeled onto the lot.
The lawsuit claims the town has breached its legal duties by failing to maintain the drains and “allowing an increased flow of storm water onto the lot in an amount beyond the capabilities of the storm water drainage system.”
The complaints further allege that the high levels of moisture in the crawlspace have damaged framing and subflooring making the home structurally unsound.
The Miller’s are requesting the court issue a judgment against the town (and therefore taxpayers) in excess of $25,000 for damages (usually used as a placeholder amount in order to move a case to Superior Court), recovery of attorney’s fees, and recovery of the costs of filing the action.
Carolina Beach has not responded to the allegations yet and no official statement has been issued by the town regarding the ongoing lawsuit. Reached for comment, town councilmember Steve Shuttleworth said he could not discuss pending legal action but that it was unfortunate for both parties when situations end up in litigation.