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West Bank property owners get storm water fix assessments

MILLERSPORT – Eightyfour West Bank property owners now know what ODNR’s March 2017 decision to ban storm water discharges through or over the new dam could cost them.

ODNR rejected pleas from the Fairfield County Board of Commissioners, state legislators, homeowner associations and individual property owners to allow a single, engineered dam penetration or over-the-top discharge to manage the storm water currently being managed by three pumps. ODNR has allowed just two penetrations – both on North Bank. The Buckeye Lake Sewer District line that crosses under the lake from the Fairfield Beach area will continue to penetrate the dam west of the AMIL spillway and sewer/ utility lines will penetrate the dam to serve the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club on Watkins Island.

The discharge ban affects three pumps on the West Bank from Lieb’s Island through the Ballard Lane area. They are:

• West Bank Homeowners Association’s pump protecting about 40 homes and the Licking County Water and Wastewater’s West Bank lift station;

• A pump protecting the Ballard Lane portion of the West Bank; and

• A Licking Fairfield Corporation pump protecting about 100 acres of prime farmland and Millersport Road.

Fairfield County has settled on a ditch petition to collect the combined storm water in the area and pump it west under Lieb’s Island Road, discharging it into the Feeder Creek and ultimately Buckeye Lake.

The project scope includes almost 1,300 feet of 24 inch pipe as the primary conduit, about 200 feet of 12 inch and 18 inch pipe to collect water in the West Bank Homeowners Association area and about 1,400 feet of 12 inch collector pipe in the Ballard Lane area. Pump upgrades or replacements are also anticipated.

The construction cost is estimated at about $500,000, but it has not been bid yet. The final hearing before the Fairfield County Commissioners on the ditch petition is set for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15, in the Commissioners Hearing Room in the courthouse.

Construction cost assessments have been developed for each of the 84 properties. The 84 include four properties owned by the Fairfield County Commissioners; two tracts of farmland totaling about 77 acres owned by Licking Fairfield Corporation; two tracts totaling almost 14 acres owned by the West Bank Homeowners Association; and one parcel owned by ODNR.

Most of the homes sit on 0.04 to 0.09 acres with handful on more than 0.10 acre. The formula used to calculate the individual assessments has not been disclosed or explained. That’s likely to be a big issue at the May 15 hearing.

The one-time construction cost assessments for homes range from a high of $9290.81 to $4,887.04. Fairfield County’s four properties would be assessed $3,599.21 for construction costs; ODNR is assessed $7,232.54 for one parcel; Licking Fairfield Corporation $15,011.87 for 77.2 acres of farmland; and West Bank Homeowners’Association $8,105.03 for 13.86 acres.

The assessments are based on the property owners benefited paying 100 percent of the construction costs. Thanks to State Rep. Tim Schaffer up to $500,000 in grants for this project could be available from the Lakes in Distress Program Fund that was part of the state budget after the dam reconstruction was announced. Applications were due this week for those funds.

At least two other applications were submitted in addition to the West Bank Petition Ditch project. The Village of Buckeye Lake is seeking grant assistance to address storm water issues along North Bank. The Village is also the lead on a multijurisdictional project to study No Name Creek which runs from along Ohio 360 in Walnut Township, through Buckeye Lake Village and the KOA Kampground and into Union Township before discharging into the South Fork of the Licking River.

The creek frequently floods after significant rain events backing up water on Ohio 360 and affecting operations at the campground. After some events, it flows backwards, increasing flooding along and on top of Ohio 360 and in the campground.

First year maintenance cost assessments were also calculated for each property. The highest for a home was $309.69, with most homes in the mid-$200’s. Most of these assessments in the early years would pay the cost to operate (electricity) and maintain the pumps. It would likely increase annually and at an increasing rate as more of the system requires maintenance or even replacement.

While most of the construction cost and the corresponding assessments could be offset depending on the grant award and the final cost to build the ditch, property owners will be liable for 100 percent of the maintenance costs.

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