By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Landowners along Hull Prairie Road are in favor of the county cleaning out the ditch that runs along the road. But they have one big concern – how much will it cost them.
The Wood County Commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday morning on the Hull Prairie ditch project, which covers 11.6 miles in Bowling Green, Plain Township, Middleton Township and Perrysburg Township. The project extends from south of Newton Road to north of Roachton Road.
For years, clogged ditches along Hull Prairie Road only affected neighboring farmland. But now, with so many homes and housing subdivisions growing along the road, ditch drainage is necessary to keep water from creeping into basements.
The estimated cost for the project is $422,000, according to Wood County Engineer John Musteric. The watershed area covers 6,749 acres, with 1,378 parcels. A preliminary cost per acre would be $62.53. However, no surveys have yet been conducted, Musteric said.
Several neighbors of the ditch project attended Tuesday’s hearing to voice their support for the ditch cleaning. Carl Barnard said several of his neighbors get water in their basements with heavy rainfalls. One neighbor recently had $6,000 in damage due to flooding.
“This is very critical to us,” Barnard said.
Musteric agreed that the project should proceed.
“Prolonging implementation now will do nothing but exacerbate drainage issues later,” he said. Better drainage will not only result in better farm yields, but also help the residential areas, Musteric said.
Unless the ditch is placed under the county maintenance program, the responsibility to keep it clean is on the townships and landowners. The benefits of the project are greater than the costs, Musteric said.
But the landowners would really like some more specifics on exactly what those costs might be for them individually.
“This is all well and good. But the bottom line is the cost,” Joe McIntyre, of Cogan Lane, said.
Until the survey is done, those costs are unknown, Musteric said.
“Everybody is very curious about the costs,” said Robert Ashenfelter, of Lake Meadows Drive.
The flooding problems are worsening as development occurs, according to Ashenfelter, who said the two drainage ponds in his subdivision don’t drain if the ditches are clogged.
“We would like something to get rid of the water a little faster,” he said. “We’re excited to see this come to fruition.”
Musteric listed the benefits of the project as:
- The ditch will be maintained by the county rather than the farm and residential communities.
- The potential for water damage will be reduced.
- The assessments are only charged when monies are needed for maintenance.
- The plat of the project will become a permanent record.
The county engineer listed the disadvantages as:
- Landowner assessments are necessary.
- Most landowners aren’t aware of the permanent 25-foot maintenance easements with ditch programs. So they tend to place objects like fences, sheds or yard debris in the easement area.
- Time – “the improvement of this ditch and the three branches cannot happen fast enough,” Musteric said.
The county commissioners voted unanimously to approve the ditch proposal.
“It seems it’s needed and we’ve got good support for it,” Commissioner Craig LaHote said.
The next step is for a survey of the ditch to be conducted. Musteric said the Hull Prairie ditch is next on his office’s list for surveying.
“We’ve been given a year. Hopefully it will not take that long,” he said.
Once the survey is complete, the overall cost and assessments will be calculated and a second hearing will be scheduled for those with property along the ditch.
“That will give you a better idea of the cost and the individual costs,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said.
Musteric also answered some specific questions by landowners, such as Michael Bryant’s request that the work take into consideration a natural area. “We always try to do that,” Musteric said. However, he cautioned that isn’t always possible in cases where log jams have formed. “We have to be able to get in there and remove those.”
Harold Weihl asked about a “bottleneck” in the ditch just south of the railroad tracks on Hull Prairie Road. “I’d like to see something done there, too,” he said.
Musteric said the county will be checking culvert sizes to make sure they are adequate.
Weihl also questioned the fairness of the assessments. “I don’t mind paying a cost, but down my way, the ditch is in pretty good shape.”
Another landowner, Michael Malinowski of King Road disputed that his property drained into the Hull Prairie ditch. He was going to meet with the county engineer’s office to discuss his concerns.