Article Courtesy of ABC
Channel 3 WEAR TV
By Hannah Mackenzie
Published January 15, 2019
ESCAMBIA COUNTY — Escambia County is fighting back against flooding.
To improve drainage, the county is moving forward with a storm water management
project in the Lake Charlene subdivision.
However, not everyone is happy about it,
and eminent domain over a small piece of land is now being
brought into question.
Initially, the county offered the Lake Charlene Homeowner's
Association $14,100 for the land. They upped the offer to
just under $17,000 when the H.O.A. declined, citing money is
not the issue.
A member of the home owner's association, who didn't want to
speak on camera, told us the county is creating a band-aid
solution, for an issue years in the making.
Back in 2014, the Lake Charlene area saw major flooding and
dozens of homes were damaged.
Now, the county's response is to buy a small area of land
belonging to the home owner's association, and add two 60-inch drainage
pipes near the flood gate on the lake. The drainage pipes would lower the
water level by about nine inches.
Rejecting two offers already, the H.O.A. is not on board. The county wants
to move forward anyway, utilizing their seldom used power of eminent domain
to acquire the land.
"We must remove a larger amount of water from Lake Charlene," said Escambia
County Commissioner, Doug Underhill. "And increase Lake Charlene's ability
to absorb a rain event."
The H.O.A. has hired attorney, William Dunaway. Dunaway declined an
on-camera interview, but did send Channel 3 News this letter detailing the
association's 'surprise' at receiving the land purchase offer, considering
"the county's misuse of Lake Charlene as a de facto holding pond for storm
water drainage from surrounding neighborhoods without proper legal
One Lake Charlene resident told us the H.O.A. does want to work with the
county, but they don't think all avenues have been looked into.
One suggestion: concreting a county-owned culvert to improve drainage, or
simply maintain it. Another suggestion: divert the storm water before it
ever enters the lake.
"We've modified the plan every time to take into consideration those things
that the homeowners there wanted. Somehow, they believe that dropping the
water level nine inches in that lake will somehow affect their property
values or in some way will affect the view from their kitchens," said
If approved, the plan is estimated to protect 75 structures from flooding
and reduce the frequency of flooding on 266 properties.
In an effort to avoid the eminent domain process, Commissioner Underhill
says he is making another offer to the H.O.A. tomorrow night at the board of
county commissioner's meeting.
Underhill says he will double the county's initial $14,100 offer.