Hernando City Hall

Hernando City Hall

Robert Long|DTT

Hernando city officials will invite a Memphis developer to give an accounting before board officials at the next meeting of the Hernando aldermen concerning alleged "clear-cutting" and steep grading that neighboring residents complain have caused erosion and drainage issues in Forest Meadows subdivision.

Chris Montesi has been invited to appear before aldermen to discuss erosion issues in Forest Meadows, Phase 5 on June 5.

At Tuesday night's city board meeting, residents complained that trees were cut down, and ones remaining had damaged root systems that resulted in falling trees that have caused property damage.

Attorney and resident Mike Graves, whose property backs up to Phase 5 of Forest Meadows subdivision, objected to allowing Montesi to do any more work in that phase of the subdivision until he accounts for tree removal and grading that allegedly caused erosion in the subdivision.

Graves said more than $40,000 damage occurred when a damaged tree fell on his pool house, demolishing it and causing other damage due to a weakened tree root system from graders and backhoes.

"This is to me not only a safety issue but my property is in danger and its stability is compromised," Graves said. "It's in danger of collapsing."

Graves also complained about the steep grade of the slope behind his house.

"There is significant erosion," Graves said. "That's what this is about."

A phone message was left for Chris Montesi following Tuesday night's meeting but the developer did not return a phone call Wednesday left by the newspaper.

Montesi was not present at Tuesday night's meeting.

Mayor Tom Ferguson said it was proper than Montesi be allowed to address concerns and issues in person before the board.

Residents in Notting Hill subdivision also spoke out at Tuesday night's meeting about erosion problems plaguing their neighborhood.

Like Graves, Notting Hill resident Amy Stewart showed photos of eroding soil, a problem exacerbated by more than 28.76 inches of rain since January.

She informed aldermen that the Notting Hill subdivision planned to seek Emergency Watershed Protection funds to get fallen trees cleaned up and take other measures to curb erosion.

The EWP program is an 80/20 match with 20 percent of the funds ostensibly coming from the Notting Hill Homeowners Association. The City of Hernando will be a sponsor in name only to "get the ball rolling," according to Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Miller.

Resident Elaine Sullivan complained the erosion has been caused by "deforestation of the land."

Both Mayor Tom Ferguson and Ward 4 Alderman Mike McLendon acknowledged erosion is an issue within the city limits of Hernando.

"We have ditches with waterlines and gas lines exposed," Ferguson said. "You are not the only ones with this problem."

"We can go up Highway 51 to Cross Creek and Forked Creek," McLendon said. "People are losing fences due to erosion."

Also Tuesday, aldermen overturned a decision of the Hernando Planning Commission denying a request for David Adams to continue to operate a wrecker service at 155 East Center Street.

Aldermen instructed Adams to construct an adequate fence that will conceal junked cars and vehicles in need of repair and granted a 60-day conditional use permit contingent on staff recommendations that no streets will be blocked by operation of his business and that a "sufficient" fence be built, in order for Adams to continue operations at the location. Adams has been in business since 1969 at that site. Conditional use for the site had expired.

Adams, who did not speak, was represented by attorney Steven Pittman who advocated for his client, requesting that aldermen give Adams "a short leash" in order to be allowed to come into compliance and continue to successfully operate his business.

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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