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Dozens of Northfield Center residents speak out for, against Dorwick Ditch proposal

by Briana Barker | Reporter Published: August 3, 2016 12:00 AM
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Northfield Center -- More than 100 Northfield Center residents attended an informational meeting about a potential ditch project in the township July 27 at Northfield Elementary School.

The meeting was scheduled at a Summit County Council June 20 public hearing on the proposal after some residents said they did not get notice of a June 6 meeting where the plan was initially discussed by Summit County Engineer Al Brubaker.

Council agreed to leave the June 20 hearing open so residents can comment before Council votes on whether the county would move the project into the planning phase.

The proposal stems from a petition by Kenwick Drive resident Richard Patz, who petitioned the county for relief from flooding by implementing ditch improvements "to remove obstructions, deepen, widen, construct, drain, where necessary waterways that will eliminate standing or pooled water."

The project would include re-channeling ditches behind homes on Marwyck Drive and Kenwick Drive, between backyards of homes on Kenwick Drive and Pickwick Drive, the ditch running behind homes on Beacon Hills Boulevard and Skylane Drive, as well between homes on Bayberry Drive and Marwyck Drive.

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The Dorwick Ditch northern extension and ditches alongside homes on Dorwick are also included in the proposed project.

The total estimated cost of the project is $505,575 according to Brubaker.

The annual assessment per parcel for construction costs to be paid over 10 years ranges from a minimum to a maximum of $1,115 per year, with an average annual payment of $179.

Approximately 256 residents would be assessed for the project, according to the current proposal.

Brubaker told residents July 27 most properties would be assessed similarly, but commercial properties could face higher assessments depending on acreage.

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A Lowell Lane resident said he doesn't understand why the project has become "an emergency" for people who bought in low lying areas 40 years ago.

Brubaker said the petition process is the only mechanism for township residents to apply for relief from storm water problems.

Another resident said he spent thousands of dollars to fix drainage on his property and feels each property owner should be responsible for their own issues.

"Am I going to be reimbursed?" he asked.

Another resident who said she is one of the property owners who floods regularly understands no one wants to pay higher taxes but feels the issue includes those who don't flood.

"Unless you can keep your rain water up there where you live, we are going to flood, so I see it as a community problem," she said. "If we put up a dam and kept your water up by you, you would see that as a problem."

Brubaker said building a dam would be illegal and that Ohio drainage law says lower elevation property owners are required to allow water from the higher elevation properties to pass through. He added the ditches do need to be cleaned out throughout the area, which he said is the majority of the cost of the project.

One resident asked if there were any federal funds available to assist, to which Brubaker said there may be some funds for water quality improvements.

The next step is for County Council to vote whether to move forward, Brubaker said. The next County Council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 8 at 4:30 p.m.

A vote to proceed from Council would mean the engineer's office would develop a detailed engineering plan and schedule of assessments.

Brubaker said it could be a year or more before the county holds another public hearing, for residents to review the assessments and plan. Following that public hearing there would have to be another vote by County Council to proceed.

Resident affected by the project who wish to send comments can do so by emailing jnovakovic@summitoh.net or mpotter@summitoh.net or by regular mail to Summit County Council, 175 South Main Street, 7th floor, Akron, Oh 44308.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432

bbarker@recordpub.com

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