The Press Newspaper
A permit issued by the Lake Township zoning inspector that allows a developer to deepen a detention pond in the Freedom Estates subdivision and convert it into a permanent pond is being challenged by several subdivision residents who have filed an appeal.
Dave Miesmer, zoning inspector, said Tuesday he intends to place the matter on the township zoning board of appeal’s May meeting agenda.
At issue is a “dry” pond that now collects storm water from throughout the subdivision, which sits east of Bradner Road, north of State Route 51, and whether the developer owns sufficient land area contiguous to the pond to meet the township’s zoning requirements for a permanent, or retention, pond.
The pond is in a 1.25-acre parcel and the zoning resolution requires property owners have at least two acres for a permanent pond.
A 30-foot-wide corridor of land surrounds the pond parcel and is labeled “detention easement” on the subdivision’s plat map.
Miesmer said he based his decision to issue the permit on several unsold lots abutting the easement belonging to the developer, DMWW Properties, LLC, Holland, O. and therefore satisfying the 2-acre requirement for installing a permanent pond.
“The unoccupied lots owned by the developer and the pond parcel equal about six acres,” Miesmer said.
Zoning documents show the developer wants to deepen the pond to hold 12 feet of water.
Freedom Estates residents don’t question ownership of the pond site but do contend the easement is for allowing access to the pond site for maintenance and related issues.
Residents are also concerned drainage problems will only increase if the pond is permanently holding water.
“We have to abide by the rules of the township and we want them to do the same,” said Randy Saint John, of East Freedom Drive. “We believe they’re changing the footprint of the pond and the (unsold) adjacent lots are already platted, so this will require a replat.”
A replat would have to be approved by the Wood County Planning Commission.
Saint John said neighbors have told him their sump pumps are already strained during wet weather.
Residents also wonder if an unfenced permanent pond could also be a hazard for young children.
David DeVore, of South Freedom Drive, whose backyard abuts the easement, has photos of the pond flooding onto his property following rainstorms.
He’s also had disagreements with the developer about where his property line sits, prompting him and several neighbors to uncover Wood County markers at the corners of their properties to back their claims.
DeVore and his wife, Robin, received a letter from DMWW last July explaining the developer’s plans.
“The changes will allow for better water flow in and out of the community during seasonal rains and for increased depth to hold more,” the letter, from Wade Smith, project manager says. “We will also be adjusting storm overflow levels to ensure proper drainage of the community, installing an aeration system and ultimately stocking the pond with fish to help develop a proper eco system that will minimize additional maintenance. In short, we are replacing the poorly designed pond with a well functioning lake.
“All excavation will take place within the lake retention easement. The restoration of the work area will include hydro-seeding of any areas in which grass is damaged. When the project is finished we are confident you’ll be very happy with the new lake, both in terms of its appearance and its functionality.”
But residents have been anything but happy. For months, several have been regularly attending meetings of the township trustees to voice their concerns.
The trustees issued a stop work order in early August after bulldozers had begun excavating the pond site. The county planning commission denied a request that month by DMWW to replat two residential lots and for a variance for an open green space as well as converting the pond.
During that meeting, two Walbridge Road residents said they were worried about flooding from Ayers Creek, which flows along the north side of the subdivision.
Dave Steiner, commission director, informed the commission’s board that although there are no wetlands on the property, a portion of the creek’s 100-year floodplain sits in the subdivision.
An opinion issued by the Wood County’s prosecutor‘s office in December says: “The developer does not have to file a new plat in order to convert the detention pond area into a retention pond with aerator and spray since it involves no change to common area lot with the pond or the footprint of the pond.”
Richard Welling, a township trustee, said the trustees have asked for a “clarification” of the prosecutor’s opinion.
DMWW acquired unsold lots in the subdivision last year from Dold Development Co., which went bankrupt.
David Miller, general partner, said he’s confident the planned changes will improve drainage.
“We spent a lot of money on engineering,” he said. “Our goal is to increase property values and improve the subdivision. We wouldn’t have spent the money if we didn’t think it would be better. Currently it’s not a functioning system.”
The pond discharge plans were also approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, he said.
Some pumps had been turned off when the previous owner hadn’t paid the electric bill. DMWW paid to have the power restored, according to Miller.