PILOT MOUNTAIN — Following heavy rainfall on Aug. 4, two ponds located off of Lola Lane in Pilot Mountain flooded and washed out, creating public concern.
When the larger of the two ponds broke containment and poured out much of its water, a submerged car was revealed at the bottom. It is unclear how long the car has been in the pond and who owned the car.
On Wednesday afternoon, Michael Boaz, interim town manager, said that he didn’t want to comment on the car, although he did say that the vehicle appears to be an older model.
“All we’re trying to do now is just find a VIN on it and figure out whose car it was,” said Daryl Bottoms, chief of police, adding that foul play is not suspected.
According to Boaz, the owner of the pond is Ron and David Construction Inc., run by Ron Moorefield and David Inman.
However, Inman said he was not involved with the property as an owner and refused to provide any additional comment or information.
As for when the ponds were constructed, Boaz said that the best estimate that town officials can provide is sometime in the 1950s.
Matt Linville, a resident of the condominium complex that sits between Lola Lane and the ponds, said that he and his wife woke up Thursday morning to what smelled like a “pigsty” due to the washed out ponds. The complex where Linville resides was constructed by Ron and David Construction Inc., according to Boaz.
Linville described the scene as looking like “low tide at the beach” and “an eyesore.”
In addition to the visual concerns with the ponds, Linville said that the breech of the ponds has displaced geese that resided there as well as killed the fish and shell fish.
“We don’t want to be known as zika-ville on our side of town,” Linville said of the mosquitoes that he assumes will gather if the pond situation isn’t resolved quickly.
Boaz was first notified of the concern when town Commissioner Kimberly Quinn approached him recently, which prompted him to walk the entirety of the stream to assess the damage.
Boaz said sewer lines that are close to the dam have been eroded over the past week, but said that the pump station was not damaged.
“They’re still intact, they aren’t broken,” Boaz said. “There doesn’t appear to be eminent failure so I’m pleased about that.”
Boaz said that he contacted a division in the Department of Environmental Quality that specifically deals with dam safety, which prompted officials from the agency to come to Pilot Mountain and evaluate the situation.
“The issue that we have is that the dam isn’t regulated, which means that they don’t monitor it,” Boaz said. “They know that it’s there, but they don’t do anything with it.”
Boaz explained that the dam isn’t regulated due to its relatively small size and that it poses a “relatively low impact on downstream property owners.”
“There’s little that the dam safety folks can do to force the property owner to rebuild the dam,” Boaz said, but added that state officials are researching options.
According to Boaz, Mount Airy and Dobson offered advice on possible steps forward and suggested addressing the issue from a nuisance standpoint.
“We’re looking at potential ways to encourage the property owner to reconstruct that dam and deal with the nuisance, the smell, the killing of the fish, the unsightly appearance, that sort of thing,” Boaz said.
“If it rises to a health and safety issue, the board can act on it,” Ed Woltz, town attorney, said of the board of commissioner’s options, adding that he plans to look at the plat that the developer of the property originally submitted and see if there are any notes from regulatory authorities that the town might be able to us to dictate the restoration of the ponds.
The question of proper construction of the ponds and dam has been raised by town officials, with Boaz noting that he observed what appeared to be an “unsophisticated” standpipe, although he can’t say for sure where the outside of the pipe is.
Woltz said that the ponds were constructed without spillways.
“The maintenance, or lack thereof, of this dam is what’s responsible for the degradation of the water and sewer pipes,” Mayor Dwight Atkins said.
As for an immediate solution, Boaz said that the town doesn’t have a detailed plan for moving forward yet, noting that it doesn’t have an ordinance that addresses dams and stormwater retention.
“This is not something you think about until one breaks,” Boaz said. “We’re going to do everything that we can to see to it that it’s repaired.”
The town attorney said that Pilot Mountain is looking at the possibility of pursuing a stream restoration grant, noting that the recent occurrence might help push the grant forward.
Woltz also mentioned that the attorney for the owners of the two ponds approached him roughly a year ago and said that the owner wanted to give the ponds to the town. A commissioner noted that the town probably didn’t act on the offer due to liability concerns.
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.