2017-04-16 / News

St. Charles residents bring flooding issues to village council

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

On Tuesday, April 11, an egret slowly strolls along a water soaked lawn on Sharon Road, just south of Marion Road in St. Charles Township. 
TCC Photo by Jeanne Marcello On Tuesday, April 11, an egret slowly strolls along a water soaked lawn on Sharon Road, just south of Marion Road in St. Charles Township. TCC Photo by Jeanne Marcello ST. CHARLES – The April 12 meeting of the St. Charles Village Council opened with several residents expressing their frustration over problems with flooding and drainage difficulties.

Dennis Guzy said, “We’re having problems on Ithaca Road with the ditches.”

DPW Superintendent Patrick Mishler told Guzy, “There’s a misaligned pipe on your property.”

Guzy wanted to know why the ditch was cleaned out on Ithaca road. He told the council the ditch was power-jetted, which resulted in blowing out the culvert tube supporting his driveway. “Now the driveway has collapsed,” he said.

Village president Marie Roe said, “Mine has been jetted out several times and never blew out the tube.”

Guzy told the council, “If you’re not going to do anything, I’m going to bury [the ditch].”

Trustee Christine [formerly Kristine] Neumann said, “We didn’t bury tiles all the way out. Where they’re plugged up, you have to assume they’re in your yard.”

Mishler said, “We tried to fix it.”

Patrick Rohloff said Guzy’s lawn sunk.

Village manager Matthew Lane responded saying, “That’s because a tractor fell in.”

Trustee Lois Thiele commented, “MISS DIG marked my yard with flags.” She said she pulled them out.

Mishler said, “The MISS DIG flags were there because of the ditching.”

Neumann asked Mishler, “You said someone fell into the driveway.”

Mishler said, “Yes.”

Roe said the ditches were clogged. She asked Mishler, “You were told to go make it work? Mishler said, “Yes.”

Guzy said he has lived at the same house for 28 years, and never had problems with the culvert. Neumann commented about culvert pipes, “They get old.”

Guzy believes the pressure setting on the equipment used to clean out the ditches was set too high.

Mishler responded, “We ran it at 2,000 psi. We went down the line until we got to yours and couldn’t get through.”

Roe explained if her culvert pipe were damaged, she knows she would be responsible for its repair.

Guzy responded, “If I damaged it, I’d fix it. I’m done.” He left the building.

Rohloff said, “Last year the ditches were flooded too. Now, my sump pump runs constantly. It’s pumping water into the ditch and stays in my the yard. My ditches are full. I don’t want black mold growing in my basement.”

Trustee Jim McPhail said, “If Denny [Guzy] doesn’t want to fix it, the village could fix it and bill him.”

Trustee Diana Kutz asked, “Where is this pipe that’s misaligned?”

Theile said, “That pipe is quite a ways up into the property.”

Lane said he doesn’t know where it’s misaligned because it’s underground and has not been excavated.

McPhail said, “We can’t flood other properties because [one person] is being obstinate.”

Neumann said, “I’m on a sand hill and I can’t keep my basement dry.”

Roe said, “He can’t get his property to drain because the ditch is full.”

Rohloff said, “I never had a water problem until last year. It started about this time last year.”

Trustee Thomas White said, “My property gets runoff from the cemetery. I don’t expect the cemetery or the church to fix my property.”

Neumann responded, “[Guzy’s] problem can be fixed. Yours [White’s] can’t.”

Roe asked Mishler what he thinks.

Mishler said, “It would be an easy job. But it’s not our responsibility.” He explained it’s a slippery slope. If the DPW fixes Guzy’s, then what would they be expected to do for other residents?

McPhail said, “I agree it’s not our problem. Is the village’s response, people would have to sue [the owner of the property who refuses to fix their property]?”

Lane said, “We have to maintain that flow. We have to maintain proper drainage for public safety purposes; to prevent flooding.”

McPhail has family in Brant, but lives in the village of St. Charles. He told the council, “We all pay for ours in Brant.” He explained when a culvert was damaged at his family’s Brant property, they had to pay for its replacement.

Brian Lafrance entered the meeting. He said, “I just got a call from Denny. He said I’m blamed for collapsing it.” Several people on the council said, “No, that’s not what we said.”

Lafrance said, “I know [the culvert at Guzy’s] collapsed. There was a bit of a swale in there. I made it worse.”

Roe said, “It doesn’t matter whose fault. It’s his responsibility. We’re trying to help this other man out.”

Mishler said, “It’s not the question of the job, it’s whose responsibility it is.”

Roe said, “We’re trying to figure out how to help these people out. Denny isn’t going to fix it. There is a legal process for this. But this guy is flooded out.”

Kutz said, “This is a small town and people have to live together.”

Theile asked the man, “Have you gone to Mr. Guzy?”

He replied, “He knows I have a problem. The village knows I have a problem. The village owns the ditch.”

Neumann corrected him saying, “We have a right of way, a 33’ easement. We don’t own it.”

Roe asked, “What can we do about this?”

The man said, “Every time it rains, it’s going to fill up.”

Mishler said, “We could do it in a couple of hours. But it’s not our responsibility.”

McPhail said, “We own the ditches, the water drainage is our responsibility. We’re not providing drainage [work for an individual].”

Lane said he would be working with an attorney to determine what processes the village needs to go through to get the issue resolved. There was discussion about doing the work necessary at the site to get the ditches running properly and then assessing the cost to the property owner.

Council members talked about the flooding in other parts of the community. Kutz said, “We have water backed up to our door. It’s all over town.”

Deanna Sova said, “There’s a lot of problems with standing water, mosquitos. It causes problems.”

Lane said, “If you have an area that is too soggy, based on mosquito larvae, contact Saginaw County Mosquito Control. They may have to pump out and remove standing water.” He explained the pellets they get for controlling mosquito breeding in standing water can’t be used until May. Mosquito control will do their aerial spraying first, using airplanes for the first application of the season.

Roe said she has already seen mosquitos at her house.

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