Board votes to ‘swap’ land for retention pond to resolve flooding along Black Ankle Creek

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has voted unanimously to “swap” land for a retention pond to correct flooding problems along Black Ankle Creek.
Board members took the action during their Aug. 21 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Karl Chambless and seconded by Alderman Kelly Rector.
To correct the flooding problems, Oakland will use Disaster Recovery funds available through the Community Development Block Grant program.
But because the town does not own the retention pond near the creek, it has agreed with the property owners to “swap” some land for it south of there by quitclaim deed.
Mayor Chris Goodman said at the board’s May 15 meeting that, because it is a “one-for-one swap,” no money will be exchanged between the town and the property owners. The agreement just makes the administrative “process and effort easier.”
During discussion at that meeting, Alderman Billy Ray Morris asked if the land had been appraised to determine whether the town will be swapping “apples for apples or oranges for oranges.”
Noting that he does not believe the land has any value, Town Attorney Richard Myers said Oakland will be getting “some water in exchange for some dirt.”
He said the “swap” is designed to correct an “error” in the legal description that gave the town two-thirds of the retention pond and an adjacent “chunk” of property that cannot really be used for development.
“We’re just kind of moving the line, so that we get the entire basin,” Myers noted. “And in exchange, we’re giving back that little chunk of dirt that we shouldn’t have had in the first place.”
Morris asked why the retention pond, which is supposed to “catch water,” already has water in it.
Town Engineer Ken King said a developer will frequently need “fill dirt.”
“He goes in there and digs deep, takes this dirt and uses it,” he noted. “So, when the water comes in, it fills up that tract area, and you’ve got a lake.”
King described the difference between a “detention” and a “retention” pond. During a rain, he said, water comes into the detention basin across from the Oakland Water Treatment Plant. Then, it recedes, and the basin is dry within a few days.
But he said the retention pond at Northwoods Estates retains water all the time. And when the rain comes, it gets higher.
In response to another question by Morris, King said the water is “too high” in the retention pond near Black Ankle Creek.
“That’s why, in this Disaster Recovery Grant, we want to lower that water level 1.35 feet,” he concluded. “So, in a half-inch rain, we don’t have water out on Black Ankle Drive.”