Local News

A plan is coming into place to deal with flooding in the Bona Vesta subdivision in Pulaski Township, but an obstacle to getting underway is the cost and who will pay for it.

During a continued hearing on the matter before Williams County commissioners on Thursday, County Drainage Engineer Brian Fritsch outlined a proposal to address the flooding and standing water issues in three phases.

Phase I would include new drainage tile south of the subdivision, that would divert drainage away from the Anderson & Vreeland property on U.S. 127. Currently there is a drainage tile under the property. Thirty- and 36-inch tiles placed west of the property would eliminate future problems that could occur with the tiles running under the Anderson & Vreeland property. At the same time, the new lines would be able to handle rainwater runoff coming from the Bona Vesta subdivision.

Cost of Phase I is estimated to be $95,671.

Phase II of the project would include the replacement of two 24-inch drainage tiles that are currently obstructed by roots and deterioration. These new tiles (either two new 24-inch tiles or one 30-inch tile), according to Fritsch, would run from Old Farm Trail to U.S. 127, where the flow of water would join new construction from Phase I.

Cost of this phase of the project is estimated to be between $326,000 and $336,000. Included in the scope of this phase is working around, or re-positioning cable and utility lines that serve the community. According to the county engineer’s office, those lines run parallel to the drainage tiles, making excavation for the project that much more delicate.

Phase III of the project includes construction of a detention basin just north of the subdivision. Preliminary plans call for an eight-acre basin that would hold water coming from agricultural fields north of Bona Vesta, and drained after rain events.

Cost of Phase III is estimated to be $505,000.

Standard practice for the county, when dealing with a ditch (or drainage) petition, is to evaluate the watershed affecting the area and evenly distribute the actual cost of the remedy to affected property owners — based on either the extent that their property is contributing to the problem, or evenly, regardless of how much property one person owns.

Property affected by drainage issues in Bona Vesta include several agriculture tracts and about 150 homes or businesses.

No exact amount of assessments to properties was released on Thursday, however at a recent information session on the matter, Fritsch noted that under standard assessment practice, two agriculture parcels could see assessments of $57,000 and $58,000. Another farm could be assessed $11,000, while the average assessment to Bona Vesta homeowners could range between $500 and $700.

“This is not how we’re going to assess this,” said Commission President Terry Rummel. He questioned, “How do we assess this so it’s fair to everybody?”

“My personal opinion is that without funding (grant funding) this project probably is not going to happen,” said County Engineer Todd Roth. “Farmers don’t want to get hit too hard and homeowners don’t want to get hit too hard.”

Roth told commissioners, property owners and township trustees in attendance that there were two government funding programs that may be able to assist with the cost of the project — Critical Infrastructure grants and an Ohio Public Works Commission grant.

“My recommendation is that we pursue these,” said Roth. Commissioners agreed.

The timeline for these grant programs is months away, so there will be no contracts for excavation and construction any time soon.

Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing on the matter for April 23, 2020, at 10 a.m. at the Williams County East Annex, 1425 E. High St., Bryan.

Between now and then, commissioners and the county engineer’s office will be dealing with ownership of the drain tiles currently in place. Currently, the county has no claim to the original tiles as they were either placed there previous to construction of the subdivision, or installed while the subdivision was being constructed.

The original petition to have the county place the Bona Vesta drainage tiles under county maintenance was made by a Bona Vesta property owner in 2008.

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