Court documents obtained by News Channel 11 show three people who live in Sullivan County filed the lawsuit seeking three hundred thousand dollars. They claim Bluff City failed or refused to take corrective action to prevent sewage from making its way into their property.
One neighbor told News Channel 11 that the sewage problem is nothing new. Harriett Fentress and her family live a few doors down from the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and Fentress said she first encountered this problem over two decades ago.
Fentress said, “It was smelly and I wouldn’t let my children in the lake forever.” “So, I feel like for the majority of the time that they were growing up and old enough to enjoy the lake, they couldn’t get in the lake and enjoy it,” she said.
Fentress said, “The rain that we had, and of course, everything comes downhill, it was overworking the pumps that were down here and it was causing some flooding and some damage.”
Neighbors Marie and Brian Hochstetler said the sewer situation is more than enough to cause concern. Marie Hochstetler said, “It’s definitely enough of an issue that I would want to move away from here, away from the hazard and danger, not only for us but for our animals who are innocent and they don’t know any better.”
The animals “don’t know not to go drink out of the lake so we have to keep a very watchful eye on them all the time,” she said.
It’s been one stroke of bad luck after another for Fentress who rents out the house next to hers. Fentress said, “My husband and I are both retired and we’re on a fixed income but I couldn’t rent in good conscious to somebody and not have them have access to the lake.”
Fentress said she’s discounted rent on the property compared to what is would normally bring in. “I know that the property has depreciated and certainly with the public knowing more and more about the problems we’re having with sewage running into the yards and things down here, that’ll make it depreciate even more,” Fentress said.
One thing that these neighbors agree on is that the problem needs to be solved and soon. Fentress said, “I’d want it fixed right now, I mean, its sewage.”
“You wouldn’t leave a dirty diaper on a baby until you could get around to it. You just can’t do that,” she said.
We spoke to Bluff City’s attorney, Paul Fry, who acknowledged the lawsuit but has no further comment at this time. The city previously stated that they expected the sewage problems to be resolved by August.
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