Delaware County commissioners voted Thursday to move forward with a proposed drainage improvement project in Berlin Township to relieve flooding there.
Residents who live along a stretch of Piatt Road in Berlin Township voiced their opinions about the project during a public hearing. Upon hearing testimony from local residents, the county commission voted to direct the county Engineer’s Office to proceed with preparation of plans, reports and schedules for the project. Commissioners also established Nov. 19, 2016, as the filing date for the engineer to submit the aforementioned information.
Piatt Road resident Linda Grubb was joined by other residents in filing a petition requesting that the county make improvements in the area, which is prone to flooding and standing water after heavy rain. She was among those who were opposed to a proposed drainage project five years ago, but has since changed her mind about the issue.
“I did this petition because I feel I truly got it wrong five years ago when this project was stopped, with the thought that the drainage up the road could be improved and resolve the situation,” she said. “The flooding problem has increased and spread. (The owners of) 12 parcels — over half the total parcels, including township officials — have signed this new petition to fix the drainage problem.”
Grubb said flooding occurs on both sides of Piatt Road. She said at least eight pieces of property along Piatt Road are affected.
According to a report presented during the hearing by Scott Stephens of the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), the current drainage system in place along Piatt Road “does not appear to be functioning at or near the required capacity due to its lack of adequate design and comprehensive maintenance.”
The report, which was compiled jointly by Delaware SWCD and the county Engineer’s Office, also noted: “The absence of uniform surface grading has resulted in periods of significant ponding in the upper reaches of the watershed. While the existing drainage system still provides some degree of drainage benefit, it does not appear to function as a good sufficient outlet.”
According to the report, the total estimated cost of the project is $99,000. Of that amount $82,500 was projected for construction; $4,125 was estimated for drainage maintenance, first-year start-up, mandated by Ohio Revised Code 6137; and $12,375 was estimated for project administration, survey and engineering. Stephens noted that the estimated costs are all preliminary figures.
Costs associated with it would be “assessed to the landowners in the watershed according to the benefit received to their watershed acreage.” Assessments would be added to property taxes for each property and can be spread over a maximum period of eight years or paid in a lump sum.
According to Delaware SWCD, 22 parcels of land are within the watershed area.
Barry Cooper, who lives at the north end of the area, said that while he supports the project, he wants assurances that he will receive benefits for what he will pay into the project.
“My only problem with this — I’m all for it going forward — but can I get some help out of this please?” he asked. “I have no drainage in my property. Water stays on my property. It doesn’t flow down to the street. It’s not getting down into the culverts. If I’m going to pay for this, I should get some benefit out of it. My benefit should be to have some fill dirt to build up my low-lying spots so that the water can actually flow out into the watershed project.”
Patrick D. Paykoff, who owns farm land located on the east side of the watershed area, voiced concerns about the effect of the project on his property.
“To be for the project or against the project, I’m going to have to have more information,” he said. “I could be against this project if the engineering on this project for (his property) does not fit my liking. I could be for the project if the engineering for (his property) suits me. I want to make sure that it’s conducive to our farming practices; no adverse effects from this project. But until I get the information and I hear both sides of this, it’s impossible for me to be for or against the project.”
Paykoff said he is willing to work with Delaware SWCD to reach an agreeable solution. He said he has also hired an engineering firm to study the project as it pertains to his property.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 740-413-0902 and on Twitter @AndrewCarterDG.