During a recent Delaware County Board of Commissioners meeting, a drainage improvement petition in Genoa Township was approved by the board.
A 25-minute final public hearing was held regarding the Villas at Walnut Grove on March 12 before commissioners Jeff Benton, Barb Lewis, and Gary Merrell gave their ayes. Three members of the public, residents of the subdivision, spoke about the drainage situation after hearing a presentation from the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District.
While the approval was routine and unremarkable on its face, the process represents a component of the commissioners’ duties that may not be familiar to many residents in other communities.
“The Villas at Walnut Grove project was a petition filed under ORC 6131,” said Bret Bacon, Resource Conservation Program coordinator at Delaware SWCD, in an email.
Section 6131 of the Ohio Revised Code “authorizes the county commissioners to act on behalf of benefited property owners to make drainage improvements as requested by the petitioners,” states the final hearing report dated Sept. 3, 2019. “Should the commissioners find in favor of the petition, the existing stormwater drainage system not already being maintained will be placed on the Delaware County Maintenance Program in perpetuity per section 6137 of the ORC. The cost of maintenance is divided equally among the benefiting parcels.”
On June 28, 2018, 26 or half of the unit owners of the Villas at Walnut Grove filed a petition that asked “to replace, repair or alter the existing improvements.” They, like other petitioners, went through a three-step process. First, the commissioners viewed the site, which was done on Oct. 1, 2018. Second, a preliminary feasibility hearing was held Dec. 13, 2018. Third, if approval is given at the preliminary hearing, a second and final hearing gives formal approval.
“The commissioners are the only body that sits in judgement of these projects, and the approved projects are administered by the Delaware SWCD in cooperation with the county engineer and county commissioners,” Bacon wrote in his email.
In their final report, Bacon and Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman said they believed the petition should proceed. They wrote, “It is my opinion that the benefits of the proposed petition exceed the estimated maintenance costs and would be conducive to the public welfare.”
They went on to say that the amended infrastructure and new base value should be forwarded to Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa.
“This petition was specifically filed to add the stormwater infrastructure in the condo to the Drainage Maintenance Program,” Bacon said in his email. “There is no construction aspect to the project, however there are ongoing maintenance needs such as inspections, debris clearing, seeding, etc. that must be done annually. This work is either done by our staff at the SWCD, or by a contractor hired by us. All costs incurred are paid for via a special assessment on the units within the condo. We currently have 563 projects on drainage maintenance within the county consisting of agricultural projects, subdivisions, condos and commercial sites.”
In its formal resolution, the commissioners affirmed the necessary action and confirmed the assessments for the Villas at Walnut Grove Condominium Drainage Maintenance Improvement Project.
For more information, visit soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us or call 740-368-1921.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.