July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Township resident must pay $11K to repair pipe causing flooding

County officials say a Brunswick Hills Township man is responsible by law for more than $11,000 to replace a drainage pipe on his property that contributes to flooding, but said they’re willing to work with him on the cost.

A narrow drainage pipe on Richard Lehnecker’s property, 4700 Boston Road, has been contributing flooding across the road during storms, and county commissioners plan to approve a resolution next week for a project to replace it.

A Medina County official said this 15-inch drainpipe on Richard Lehnecker’s property is to blame for flooding on Boston Road. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

Strongsville is to the north of Boston Road and the township to the south.

County Engineer Mike Salay said Strongsville road crews have been dealing with the problem for several years, replacing damaged culverts on their side of Boston Road even though the problem has come from the Medina County side.

“It’s been enough of an ongoing problem with Strongsville that they said enough’s enough,” Salay said.

Strongsville’s engineer did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

State law says Lehnecker is responsible for replacing the pipe, Salay said, and the law does not allow the county to spend public money on privately owned property unless it is part of a larger public project.

However, Salay said since parts of the project are relevant to the public right-of-way, the county can justify paying for more than half of it.

An estimate from Mosko Excavating in North Royalton said the $11,600 project includes removing five trees and a headwall as well as lining and filling a new ditch that would be moved a foot closer to Lehnecker’s house. During a discussion session following Monday’s commissioners’ meeting, Salay proposed that the county charge Lehnecker the $5,100 cost of replacing the existing culvert and pipe.

He said the county would pay the cost of the project up front and be reimbursed by Lehnecker for the $5,100 through assessments on his property taxes.

Ohio Revised Code “allows us to tack it on to his taxes as a lump sum, but the amount is such that I’d be looking to spread it out over about five years,” Salay said.

The property was taxed at roughly $2,200 per half in 2012, so Lehnecker could be looking at payments of $2,700 into 2018.

Lehnecker could not be reached for comment Monday.

The heart of the problem is that the existing 15-inch pipe cannot handle the volume of storm water it takes on. Salay says it needs to be 36 inches in diameter. While other drainpipes along the road are also too narrow, Salay said Lehnecker’s property poses a unique problem. A watershed pipe for a nearby creek also sits on Lehnecker’s property less than 20 feet back from the drainage pipe.

The project may not be a total fix, which could mean more money out of Lehnecker’s pocket, Salay said.

“If this doesn’t work, another large pipe would need to be installed under the driveway and would not be considered part of the right-of-way, so that would be entirely on the homeowner,” Salay said. “That would be not cheap either, because it’s a concrete driveway and you’d have to remove the concrete.”

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.