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Edgewood Residents Express Frustration Over Flooding

Edgewood residents continue to express frustration with flooding after recent heavy rain events.

Homeowners are saying that storm water and sewage are pouring into basements and yards, damaging property and belongings.

Keith Henry and Lynda Martinelli, residents of Meadowlark Drive, spoke to city council recently about rainfall in July.

Henry said that he ended up with four feet of water in his basement, covering his furnace and hot water heater.

Henry and his wife have two children, who have disabilities, and Henry said his wife hurriedly got the children into the car just as the water was pushing at the tires, and found enough traction to pull out of the driveway and drive to safety.

"My kids' lives are at stake," Henry said. "My peace of mind, when it rains, I can't sleep."

Martinelli said she had 12 inches of sewage in her basement. 

She thinks runoff is the biggest issue, although she admits she isn't an engineer. Having lived at her house for forty years, she said she only had a problem once when she first moved in, but it wasn't sewage. They installed a sump pump and that really helped. This time she called Sanitation District 1.

"They do come out and do everything I say," Martinelli said. "They came out and scoped my line and found out I had a crushed pipe under my driveway. They replaced it."

She received a letter from SD-1 which basically said it wasn't liable for flood damage. Henry didn't get a letter, but when he went to SD-1, he was told to go to Edgewood's council meeting and see if the city can help.

Edgewood City Administrator Brian Dehner said the city  doesn't have any jurisdiction over the pipes in the city.  

He said SD-1 is collecting money from residents, it is on their bill, and therefor people should go to SD-1's board meeting.

He said there are programs set up by SD-1, but they are primarily for problems under $10,000. He explained that he thinks it is a capacity problem, and says it is apparent that pipes are not large enough to handle the runoff. He said that he and City Attorney Frank Wichmann have been at recent meetings.

"They have staff who are good to work with," Dehner stated. "But they own the sanitary lines. They are collecting money from you."

There is a program for damaged areas in which resident can apply to the city, and the city would ultimately pay a third of the cost of repair, while the resident and SD-1 each pay a third. There is also a 50/50 program, but Dehner said since the line in question runs across the easement, that program would not be applicable.

Henry said he had one conservative estimate on this last flood's damage at $25,000. He said his insurance caps his liability at $15,000. Henry held up his hands.

"If we can't come up with a fix for this, I won't be able to sell my home," he said. With eight documented cases of his basement flooding, he said nobody would want that problem.

Resident Tom O'Connor lives on Elmwood, dubbed "the swamp" for its flood-prone history.

"I came to ask you what's up, what has happened, what have you done since the last meeting," he said. "I appreciate that Mayor (John) Link said he would have someone at the SD-1 meeting, and he was true to his word, Frank Wichmann was there."

But if the problem persists, real estate values would be questioned, O'Connor said.

"If no one wants to live there," he stated, "housing values will go down."

O'Connor suggested that the city may be less strict with developers than in previous years, with run-off coming from new homes.

"You're responsible for you citizens," he said.  "Do your job!"

"We have, Tom, and we'll continue to do so," said Mayor Link.

Council voted unanimously to have Wichmann draw up a resolution supporting the residents. It will be presented at the meeting on September 16, since the regular meeting on September 2 was officially canceled for the Labor Day holiday.

Other notes:

The property tax rate was set at $0.251 per $100 of assessed value.

Council also assessed a franchise fee on Cincinnati Bell, MCI Metro, and Duke Energy of 1.9 percent. Councilman Jeff Schreiver voiced his opposition to the fees, arguing that the city has a budget surplus of more than $1.2 million and he doesn't think residents should have an additional charge.

Dehner explained that the state charges a 1.3 percent fee and keeps the money, so the city was choosing to opt out of the state system to have the money come back to the city, to be used as a supplement for road repairs.

The fees were adopted with Schreiver opposing all of them and Councilman Tony Ward voting against the Duke fee because it was set for twenty years while the other two were set only for ten with two possible 5-year renewals.

Dehner said the Dudley Road project is set with paperwork and easements and that all necessary documentation has been sent to the state. The project's next phase will begin in the spring.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor