The aftermath of city development

As the city of Easley grows and expands into the county, there are often unintended and unwanted consequences for the people in the area, especially those right outside the city limits.

There is one local family that was greatly affected by annexations into the City of Easley.  Leun Hill, Norma Hill, Craig Barksdale Sr, and Lashinda Barksdale live on Nesbitt Lane, named after Norma and Craig Senior’s  grandparents- Perry and Azilee  Nesbitt.  They are literally at the crossroads of the most recent proposed annexations.  Their location is off Sheriff Mill Road across from Brown Drive.


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Map of the area 

The family came to speak to Easley City Council on February 13th – not to talk about the current and final vote that is slated for March 13th for the Sheriff Mill/Brown tracts– but to outline the chain of events since other neighboring land was annexed into the city of Easley to build a subdivision (Pleasant Hill finished in January 2019) and a factory (KP Components completed in January of 2021).  

In the meeting, Leun outlined how in 27 years of farming, the family never had an issue, but now the fields are flooded with water that comes from built up subdivisions on land that used to be level with Nesbitt Lane before the developers arrived.  He told the City Council how the fields couldn’t be bush hogged when they are too wet and outlined how water is running into the Barksdale’s house and into the Hill’s garage.

Indeed, when you drive down Nesbitt Lane, you see mud tracts now where there was once green pasture for cattle to graze.  You can see where the lawnmower was stuck from rains that refused to dry out many days after the last raindrop fell, as the property now soaks up the stormwater from the two- to three-year old neighbors uphill.  These neighboring plats for Pleasant Hill and Nesbitt Lane were once level to each other (as evidenced by a quick google street level search in 2008).

Nesbitt Lane

Google Street View 2008 of 201 Sheriff Mill Road

In addition, the factory completed two years later was built even higher than the Pleasant Hill subdivision. Now the KP stormwater rolls down onto Pleasant Hill, and then follows gravity down to Nesbitt Lane.  If you’d like to envision this, picture a series of steps, with KP at the top, Pleasant Hill in the middle, and the Nesbitts at the bottom. 

leasant Hill Cottages Detention Pond

To illustrate, the Pleasant Hill detention pond (pictured above) sits about 6-8 feet higher than the Nesbitt Lane property, and once it fills with water, the overflow comes out level with the Hill & Barksdale farm.  It fills with rainwater, then comes out level with the Nesbitt farm.

Spillway level with Nesbitt Farms

When members of Pleasant Hill subdivision saw the issue that Leun was having in early January, they reached out to the city to assess the issue and any potential liability.  Ryan Wallace, the Storm Water Director for the City of Easley met with Jo Ann Rice, Ed Moorer, and other HOA representatives of Pleasant Hill Cottages.  Per the HOA, Mr. Wallace assured them after a visual inspection, that everything was done correctly in the construction of the pond and all inspections were properly performed.  He did not see any liability concerns for the PHC HOA.  

During the visual inspection, they walked the property, and drove further to the Nesbitt street below them where Mr. Hill lives.  Mr. Wallace took photos of the damage which will be forwarded to his contact in the Pickens County stormwater department.

To complicate matters, Ed Moorer of Pleasant Hill Cottages is having the exact same flooding issue but from his higher-elevated neighbor, the KP Components Factory and their detention pond.  The KP Components detention pond is set up the exact same way, in relation to the Pleasant Hill detention pond, again, if you picture steps, that will help define the issue.  The water goes from KP to Pleasant Hill to the Barksdale & Hill Farm on Nesbitt Lane.  Mr. Moorer had to pay $1300 to have a landscaper put in a berm to keep the water from coming downhill.  

“The developer should have thought of that,” said Mr. Moorer.

KP Detention Pond

Ed Moorer and damage from runoff on his property.

And that’s not the only concern for Pleasant Hill Cottage owners.   

“We’ve got other issues,” says JoAnn Rice, Pleasant Hill HOA President. “The city came and did some inspections for the water sprinkler systems.  They did 3.  The rest of the homes were not inspected.  By June of next year, we must all spend money to have everything replaced for the backflow of water for our sprinkler systems.  $250-$275 per homeowner.  We would have never bought here if we knew.”

Mr. Moorer, when he bought his home, he had a nice view of rolling hills and the High School.  Then the factory came in and built up the hill.  

No matter who is at fault, the rain still falls and the stormwater drenches the terrain for days and weeks making it unfarmable and causing landscaping issues.  Says Leun, “We used to farm the land.  We can’t now, can’t get a lawnmower on it let alone a tractor because it gets bogged down in the mud.  Lawnmowers get stuck, forget tractors,” said Leun in his soft neighborly drawl.  

Flooding on Nesbitt Lane

Leun went on,  “What’s more important than fixing the fields is giving attention to the water under the Barksdale home.  Water is coming up under their house, you know there is mold growing there.  Water is under their home.”  

Lashinda Barksdale Home

Behind the Barksdale house, there is also a 30-foot tree that fell over due to the weakness of the now constantly saturated roots.  When it fell  last year, the family cut it up, but it remains.

Tree root the same size as Craig Barksdale Sr. on Nesbitt Lane.

After the Barksdales & Hills visited the Easley City Council, Mario DiPietro, City Planner & Tommy Holcombe, Assistant City Administrator, Ryan Wallace-Storm Water Director came to examine the problem.  They are waiting for an official response.  Said Norma “We have no problem with building and development, but when issues arise years later, at whose expense does this fall?” 

Currently the Nesbitt Farm is not part of the city, as the city is annexing lands all around them, they are surrounded as the city encroachment rolls forward.  

“In the past, our cows could graze every pasture we had.  Now we only have 1 pasture that is usable.  We used to have 30 cows, now we have 10,”said Norma. 

 “We can’t feed more than that, because our land is underwater, and we don’t have the same usable area to support.” Said Leun.  “The cattle would starve.”

The Hills & Barksdale’s have a roughly 70-year legacy of farming on Nesbitt Lane.  Norma and Craig’s grandparents, Perry and Azilee Nesbitt purchased the roughly 49 acres in the 1950’s.  

“They were small-time farmers.  They raised a few hogs and had around 30 head of cattle.  They also grew vegetables such as corn and beans.  My papa even tried his hand at growing peanuts.  Perry passed away in the early 80’s and Azilee carried the family from that time until she passed in 2000.  Then Alice Barksdale (Norma and Craig’s mom) and her brother Zera Nesbitt took care of the land until their passing… Alice in 2009 and Zera in 2014.  Now it’s our time to care for what our forefathers purchased and that is what we intend to do to the best of our ability.”

Nesbitt Family Photos

Nesbitt Family Photos

Nesbitt Family Photos

State Representative for District 5 (Greenville & Pickens Counties) Neal Collins is a neighbor of the Nesbitts.  He says runoff is the biggest issue in all developments as he’s seen in his 9 years.  The proper checklist in a situation like this is to first  go to your governmental entities and make sure everything is followed as it should be. Usually, they can find ways to fix the issue. Middle Creek had a runoff issue and the developers had to deepen their retention pond.

At the end of the day, what does the family want readers to know?  

We are not against our neighbors, we don’t blame our neighbors,” Norma says. “ That needs to be known.  It’s not their fault, they just want a nice house.” 

It’s the developers,” Craig chimed in. “They got in and out.” 

“The city is not governing and watching,” Lashinda added. “They don’t seem to care; they only want their money.  Dirt gets nice, flat, high, and water will flow down, just like in our situation.”

When asked about an equitable resolution, Norma responded, “Whatever harm you created, please fix it. These are man made problems. Three years after you built these developments, we have these issues.  I’m a schoolteacher, my brother is a truck driver, we work.  We use every dime we bring in.  Where do we get the help from?  They know there is a problem, they put eyes on the problem, but no equitable solution is being presented.”

The legacy of Nesbitt Lane remains unknown as they wait for a response from the City of Easley.