Shawnee man battles city for years over stream, storm water damaging his yard

 

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- A metro man has gone head-to-head with the City of Shawnee for decades, but he said, as he gets older, he just can’t do it anymore.

It all comes down to a natural stream that runs through the front of his property. David King spoke at last week’s city council meeting, something he said he’s been doing for years.

David King

“The storm water system is not natural. They built it! They created it! That’s my whole story right there," he said.

King has lived off 71st Street for 40 years. For the first two decades, he didn’t have any issues with storm water and maintained the stream as outlined in city code.

“That is where water naturally runs, but it was a reasonable, controllable type of water," he said.

But he said when the city made upgrades to 71st Street almost 20 years ago, the city also put in a storm water drainage system that re-routes water onto his property. That was the beginning of a 20-year battle.

David King's property in 1998.

“When they created the storm water system, which covers Fairway all the way over the top of the hill here, even comes down Pflumm Road, goes clear up to the high school -- all this big drain basin comes together, and it dumps it in my property," King said.

In a statement, the city told FOX4 Problem Solvers the stream is there just as it was before those improvements. They didn't do an impact study back in 1998 because they city doesn’t do those when improving existing roads.

You can read the minutes from the city council meeting where they made that decision here.

King said he's controlling the water through this property. He’s removed trees that have been uprooted, built a retention pond and pays several thousand dollars every few years to make sure that pond is clear.

He said he didn’t have any problems with the stream overflowing until the city did its expansion in that area.

David King's property in 2005.

“They somehow disassociate themselves with the water coming though my property. It’s the city’s storm water system until it hits my property. Then it’s mine, and it’s my problem,” King said. “I have done a lot of this stuff out of my own labor, but I’m 80 years old. I can’t do it anymore. Everything I do I’m going to have to start hiring.”

The city said it doesn’t use public funds for private property. King argues if he doesn’t control the water, it’ll affect the city property that surrounds him.

He wants city council to bring in a third party, have the area checked out and meet him in the middle.

“They say I’m responsible for natural, and I agree. I am responsible for natural. God caused it. I’ll live with it. But if the city caused it, I think they have some responsibility," he said.

David King's property in 2016.

The city released the following statement in regard to King's frustrations:

"City staff has been in contact with Mr. King periodically for years. As with any citizen, we are always ready and willing to keep the lines of communication open.

"71st Street was already in place before Mr. King’s house was built in the 1970’s. It was on the circulation plan to be improved and that happened in 1999 when crews installed curb, gutter and sidewalks. A natural stream does go onto Mr. King’s property now, just as it did before 71st Street was improved. Impact studies are not done when the City improves existing roads.

"The City has done work on the public right-of-way in front of Mr. King’s house. The City does not use public funds for private property. As stated above, City staff is always ready and willing to keep the lines of communication open with any and all citizens."