The Lake Township trustees may be wading into a sea of red tape if they seek to have a parcel of land along Ayers Road drained.
The 8.5-acre parcel west of the intersection of Ayers and Bradner roads has brought complaints from a few residents, Richard Welling, a trustee, said at a recent meeting.
A drainage ditch along Ayers doesn’t drain the parcel, he said. Consequently, it is often flooded and a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The county engineer’s office had said the property isn’t the responsibility of the county, Welling said.
The trustees briefly discussed the property but heeded the advice of Dave Miesmer, township zoning inspector, who said the parcel should be researched to determine if it’s on a protected inventory list of wetlands.
Dina Pearce, a spokesperson for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said the agency advises local governments and residents to not rely solely on wetland inventories before embarking on a project.
“Ohio EPA does not maintain a wetland inventory. Inventories maintained by other agencies do exist; however, the wetlands listed in inventories have not all been verified by an on-the-ground survey of the site and they do not necessarily represent every wetland that is subject to regulation,” she said. “We advise people not rely on wetland inventories because they are frequently inaccurate.”
The agency does, however, regulate the filling in of wetlands.
“Drainage of an existing wetland is not regulated by Ohio EPA – as long as they are not filling or moving soil around in the wetland. If they find a way to drain the wetland without putting anything in it, no permit would be required,” Pearce said, noting landowners should consult with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before doing any construction or other work on the site.
If a wetland is subject to the Corps’ jurisdiction, a permit from the Corps will be required prior to any construction activities, she said. If a project requires a permit, then a water quality certification permit from the EPA is also required.
Ohio law prohibits destruction of the highest quality wetlands, known as category 3 wetlands, unless it is for public need, Pearce said. Public need would include projects such as roads and bridges and public buildings such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
The law makes exceptions for agriculture and forestry/timber uses.
Mark Hummer, township administrator, said it is unlikely the township would take any action on the privately-owned parcel barring a proven health hazard.
Bruce Sanders, a spokesman for the Buffalo district of the Corps, said his office hasn’t received any requests to determine if the parcel would come under its jurisdiction.
“There are inventories that exist for both the federal and states,” he said. “But our procedure is if we get a request for a determination we send someone to the site rather than relying on satellite photos or maps,” he said.
The Wood County auditor’s website lists the owners of the property as Charles and Betty Guthrie. They could not be reached for comment.