In 1992, after volunteering at the Baptist Children’s Home’s 4H program provided by Debbie Moody from 1989 to 1991 to have a place for Leisa Thompson to keep a friend’s horses.
For one night she received a phone call from that friend that went something like this, “Hey Ellie May, this is James I need your help I’ve came down with MS, I’m paralyzed from the neck down and my horses need tended to, up in Ironto.”
From that day on James could always count on Leisa, (Ellie May), to do all she could do to take care of the horses.
Due to Debbie’s medical illness, the 4H program would no longer work out for Leisa to keep horses at the Baptist Children’s Home.
Thus, the purchasing of the farm was made possible by Cliff Whitley.
Let the work begin by starting fencing in pasture, pulling wire from the ground, put there by a river flood, putting in something like 60 fence poles.
After fencing came putting in road and the grading of house plot and barns plot.
Then in 1993 came the barn which Pete and I were able to do, due to getting tractor trailer prices on lumber. Telephone poles donated to cause by City of Salem Electric Department. Two by Fours recycled from the Spring Hollow Reservoir. Labor, tin roof, and nails provided by the Thompson’s own hands.
All was well, with The Thompson’s farm. Until one day after returning from a weekend camping trip, back in 1998, and we found the whole hillside above farms barn and road was totally denatured. Nothing was left, no trees, no barn, no grass, and no swell in earth directing Mountain Avenue’s water down to creek.
Monday morning Ronald (Pete) Thompson started conversation with the City of Salem, over water containment control for after the first rain the farm began getting mud where no mud had ever been.
City showing no concerns, Leisa started looking for the State Department of Soil and Erosion, (which wasn’t an easy task, find it under Parks and Recreation Department).
Enter Lynn Ann Snyder (Erosion Control Specialist), from Commonwealth of Virginia State Department of Conservation and Recreation, March 27, 1998, and communication with Mr. Larry Ogle, (E&S Program Administrator, and City of Salem Engineering Department). At this time she was reviewing information on Mountain View Estates, in hopes to verify Minimum Standard # 19 of the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law, Regulations and Certification Regulations 1996.
Communication continued on:
April 20, 1998, where a high berm and drainage swale along the property line was talked about and how it should help divert runoff from the Thompson’s land.
April 24, 1998, where discussions on what the contractor had agreed to construct, the drainage area to this storm water management basin/diversion would be minimal.
January 21, 1999, where the following people attended Delegate Morgan Griffith; Salem City Manager, Randall Smith; Salem City Engineer, Jay Taliaferro; DCR Storm Water Management, John Mlinarik; the complainants, Leisa and Ronald Thompson and Lynn Ann Snyder to discuss that site visit revealed several areas that will require further investigation to assure compliance with the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law, Regulations and Certification Regulations 1996, Minimum Standard #19, where the letter describes in detail what is required of the City of Salem to do to comply with State’s request, and at the end it states a permanent recorded drainage easement needs to be shown in all areas of drainage swales and storm sewer systems to assure that the Thompson’s property is protected.
January 29, 1999 where Lynn Ann Snyder was still awaiting additional information from the City to verify compliance as requested in her letter of January 21, 1999.
We at this point and time, believed Mr. Morgan Griffith when he assured us our Erosion and Sediment Control was fixed. For we had no problem with what the contractor and the City of Salem left us with until the neighbors took state ordered Erosion and Sediment Control of 1998/1999 drainage out, causing the farm to once more be washed away big time. For the above owners have not only turned their water onto us, but the above their property waters as well, onto us. Causing damages to barn, road and trees and more.
We have been trying desperately to find help since 2012 to get City to maintain drainage easement as agreed to comply to as requested by Lynn Ann Snyder in January’s 21, 1999 letter, now that above homeowners have taken out all Erosion and Sediment Control.
We first went to the City of Salem Engineers Department and spoke to William Simpson Jr. we were told before we couldn’t do anything at all, we’d have to wait for damages to occur. We were in a drought, then came the rains and for the last two years. We have been watching trees be up rooted out to the point of coming out of the ground. We have been watching our road be turned into a water-run off ditch, making it difficult to drive up. Also the barn roof is being destroyed with trees washing off banks above.
Then we went back after the damages were occurring, to the City of Salem’s Engineer’s Department, and we were told that there was nothing the City of Salem Engineers Department could do about the Erosion and Sediment Control being taken out.
We reached out to Elizabeth Abe (DEQ), Stormwater Compliance Specialist, March 28, 2016 she contacted a Kathy F. Fitzgerald, Senior Appraiser, City of Salem Department of Real Estate Virginia Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser, where Elizabeth was asking assistance in finding out if there is an easement recorded on deed(s) for Mountain View Estates. On March 29, 2016 we were informed that there appears to be a 30’ access easement for lot #4.
We later were told that these plans are the original plans the Contractor had put into permanent record at the Courthouse to receive his building permit for housing development.
We went back to the City of Salem Engineers Department. That’s when William Simpson Jr. informed us that we would have to take things up with Jay Taliaferro, the city’s assistant manager, who was the City of Salem Engineer back in 1999, and was one of the person Lynn Ann Snyder had sent January 21, 1999 letter to, about a permanent recorded drainage easement was needed to be shown for new plans of drainage control. At this date and time Jay stated things like this to Ronald (Pete), “that the original plans could not be enforced for there was a revision and that the revision could not be enforced for the revision wasn’t recorded into record, and since the City of Salem has lost all plans and records of said easement no Erosion and Sediment Control can be enforced.”
We reached out to Mr. Morgan Griffith which assured us through Barbara that all the Erosion Controls were still in place.
This isn’t the truth now that the neighbors took state ordered Erosion and Sediment Control of 1998/1999 drainage out, causing the farm to once more be washed away big time. For the above owners have not only turned their water onto us, but the above their property waters as well, onto us. Causing damages stated above and more.
This is when we began feeling like Mr. Morgan Griffith had deceived us, back in 1999 when he shook our hands and convinced us that our Erosion and Sediment Control problems were fixed, it feels now more like he was just giving us a little to shut us up, so that the wealthy contractor could get his money and run.
For our train of thought is; if this isn’t the case why wasn’t the contractor made to follow what was drawn up and agreed upon and put into permanent record in Courthouse instead of allowed to make a revision and then allowed not to have to comply to State’s January 21,1999 letter of compliance. Being he was the delegate overseeing that State requirements were followed through. Trust me when I say I feel bad about being convinced by the City that this is how it went down, but this is what we’ve been left to believe.
Google earth on 10-24-11, shows before Erosion and Sediment Control was taken out there was no mud in gateways in lower pastures, then on 6-19-12 Google earth shows after Erosion Control was taken out there is mud in lower pasture gate ways.
Can this be true? That the City of Salem (being that it was them that didn’t comply to the State’s, January 21, 1999 letter of compliance) has the right to sit back and get away with washing away the Thompson’s barn, road and trees, their whole way of life, from now and forever they have the legal right to destroy this small working farm and there’s nothing the Thompson’s can do?
Please Help Save this small working family farm from this slow cruel death by water. Please contact us and let us know if there’s anything that can be done that might help the cause.