St. Augustine property owner blames flooding on new development and said it's impacting wildlife

Shelli Schmid purchased her property twenty-two years ago, and until the past few months she was in love with where she calls home. Most of her eleven acres are underwater, flooded.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Shelli Schmid purchased her property twenty-two years ago, and until the past few months, she was in love with where she calls home.   
  
"They've landlocked me with the development, " Schmid said. "And it is flooding me out and it has been documented. I contacted the St. Johns Water Management District." 
 
She said she survived Hurricane Matthew last October, and Irma, but this is now taking a toll on her wildlife.
 
"My pigs were in a horse trailer for two weeks," she said.
 
Also affected are her chickens and rabbits, and other wildlife. She blames the flooding on her property from a nearby development, Sawmill Landing.
 
"A few days ago they put a pump to get rid of some of the water and it is helping,' she said.
 
She's complained to the St. Johns County Commission about the problem; as recently as October 3rd.
 
On Your Side contacted the county commission and was told: 
 

1. Urban Sprawl Law

The Sawmill Landing PUD does not violate any laws. The development was recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Agency and approved by the Board of County Commissioners as it met all Land Development Code requirements and does not meet the definition of Urban Sprawl.

 

2. Adjoining property shedding water on my property

The approved engineering plans for the development include infrastructure to not only prevent runoff to adjacent properties but to alleviate water collected from those adjacent properties. That being said, the County has experienced excessive rainfall during the last month, specifically due to Hurricane Irma and the recent nor’easter, causing significant flooding in many areas that do not normally flood. Rainfall for each event has been measured up to 8 to 12 inches.

 

3. St. Johns County failure to serve and protect the people

While the Sawmill Landing development is not believed to be related to drainage concerns on adjacent properties, St. Johns County staff has proactively been in contact with the resident and worked on her behalf with the developer to address her concerns. The County’s role, jurisdiction, and ability when addressing private property issues is limited by law, however, we strive to act in the best interested of our residents when possible as allowed by statute.

 
She is afraid with rain in the forecast after the weekend there won't be a dry spot on her eleven acres."
 
"There will be no land left for me to perch on," Schmid said.
 
On Your Side also checked with the St. Johns River Water Management District. They have reviewed her concerns and provided this statement:
 
"District staff have been working with Ms. Schmid on her concerns since she first contacted us in June. 

Prior to Hurricane Irma, the developer of Sawmill Landing installed a swale in front of her property and an overflow weir in the rear of her property to address her complaints. The area of the Sawmill Landing that is adjacent to Ms. Schmid’s property appears to be in compliance with district permits at this time.

Staff conducted a site visit a few days after Irma. They observed similar flooding as on other nearby properties, which staff attribute to the extreme rainfall associated with the hurricane (and exacerbated more recently by the nor’easter rainfall).

As always, our staff would be happy to revisit her concerns." 

Schmid plans to continue to complain until the problem is resolved.
 
She has spent the past few days spreading tons of mulch in some of the affected areas so she can get around.
 
She said her fight is to keep her and her neighbors' properties from being submerged in water.
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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