Resident taking Isle of Wight to court for collapsed pipes involving stormwater

Isle of Wight

ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) — An Isle of Wight County homeowner blames the county for a disaster in his side yard concerning stormwater drainage. 

Otis Brock blames the county for failing to budget for repairs and routine maintenance that he alleges led to pipe failure in the Brewers Creek neighborhood of Isle of Wight.

“It’s getting deeper, and deeper, and deeper and the pipes are falling apart further and further closer to the road,” Brock said about the issues in his yard.

For nearly four years, the erosion and falling pipes have undermined Brock’s property. The pieces of outfall pipe have fallen like dominoes, one after another. The outfall pipe takes stormwater from the sewers through the pipes to the creek below.

“I pay my taxes, and they aren’t doing a thing for me,” he said. 

Does he feel that Isle of Wight has let him down? 

“Yes sir… I want them to get together and fix this place. One way or the other,” Brock said.  

The county refers to the pipes as “orphaned outfall pipes” because neither Isle of Wight County nor VDOT claim responsibility to fix them.

 Brock’s Attorney Joe Sherman.

“They have orphan property owners.  The better term is orphan citizens, and that’s what the city has done in their approach for this case,” Sherman said.  

A likely lawsuit could determine who is responsible to fix this. It may fall on property owner Brock.  

Isle of Wight county is feeling the heat.  

“We are now having to go in and after the fact come up with a solution for a problem that occurred over a period of decades in most instances,” Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said.

Brock and Sherman argue the system repair should be the responsibility of Isle of Wight County, which approved the construction of Brewers Creek, and failed to maintain the rip-rap stone that supported the pipes that washed away.

“The pipe initially collapsed with one section of pipe. Here we are two years later. We have lost six or seven sections of pipe. We lost 60 feet of pipe that has collapsed,” Sherman said.

Robertson suggested the courts could give some direction in the situation.

“Not only do we not know who owns it, but we aren’t sure who is responsible for maintaining it, and so that is a matter for the courts perhaps.” 

And that is exactly what Brock and Sherman are going to do. They are taking the county to court to get a judge to hopefully assign responsibility. 

“The position paper says in meetings it’s too expensive to fix, and where they might have to fix others in the county, and they don’t want to set that precedence, so they’d rather have a court tell them what to do, and that’s why we’re filing the lawsuit,” Sherman said. 

Robertson says the county has been working with state leaders to fix what’s going on.

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