Sewer issues delay project

A planned 100-plus house subdivision on Seymour’s northeast side is stalled because of ongoing issues with drainage.

Developers of The Meadows already have put in new streets, curbs, gutters and sewers in preparation of selling home lots, but more work must be completed before the city will accept ownership and maintenance of the infrastructure.

Attorney Jeff Lorenzo provided the Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety with an update on the three-year-old project Thursday. He said engineers hope to have the drainage problems solved soon so the board can approve and accept the improvements at the April 27 meeting.

The subdivision is being developed by Jeff Bush and Tom Greemann of Bushmann LLC, who also built the neighboring Burkart Crossing luxury apartments.

Martin Mann with Landwater Group in Columbus worked on the drainage design for the single-family home subdivision.

He said the project is located between two watersheds — the Von Fange ditch and an unnamed tributary to Sandy Creek — and the area has relatively poor surface water drainage.

The Meadows is located at the very upper end of a ditch that drains east through Eastside Industrial park and eventually flows south down by Walmart and into Sandy Creek, Mann added.

“The ditch at our site is pretty shallow and so when we designed the drainage system, we had to make a choice,” he said.

Contractors could have installed very small, shallow pipes, similar to what was used in the development of Martha’s Vineyard, a subdivision to the east of The Meadows.

“We were concerned those pipes would be too small and we might not have enough cover to successfully get the pipes in the street to get the number of inlets that we wanted,” Mann said. “We wanted a lot of inlet structures because we don’t want the streets to flood.”

That choice would have resulted in the pipes being below the level of the ditch by a couple of feet, he added.

“It wasn’t really prudent to make the ditch bigger because we would have to make it bigger through about half the industrial park,” he said.

Instead, they designed a surcharge system, which allows for a normal storm water system to be installed with the right cover, pipe size, slope and number of inlets, but instead of draining into the ditch, the water goes into a dry well structure and soaks into the ground.

The system, however, is not working as expected.

Because of the high water table, water continues to stand in the pipe system, Mann said.

“We really don’t want water standing in yards, in the streets and in the retention basin above the ground for any long period of time, and that’s what we’ve been stuck with,” he said.

One solution they are going to try is installing some additional pipes between the retention area and the ditch to help remove the water so it’s not sitting there so long.

Mann said they could also try pumping the ground water out, but he’s concerned that would increase the surface water and impact flood plain designations in the area.

“We have addressed the concern and realize there is a groundwater issue,” he said. “We still think the design is the best solution, given the fact the infrastructure we’re draining to is limited, but we are very sensitive to trying to make the community happy.”

Randy Hamilton, Seymour’s sewer utility director, said the storm water system needs to work before the city will take over ownership.

“What I know is the storm water lines stay almost full all the time and that can’t be. There’s no way for us to clean them if the lines are full,” Hamilton said. “I wouldn’t want to burden the city with all kinds of maintenance issues because the system isn’t working and I haven’t seen a solution to that problem yet.”

Mann said they plan to keep working on the drainage until they “get it right.”

There also has been some dispute between the city and the project developers over the width of the new streets. The roads were constructed 30 feet wide, but the city’s plan requires 33 feet.

“Our thoroughfare plan has wider roads than any community we’re aware of. Even Carmel is 30 feet as opposed to 33 feet,” Lorenzo said.

He doesn’t believe three less feet will impact emergency vehicles from accessing the area. Lorenzo said he thought the 33-foot width requirement was part of the city’s thoroughfare plan from the 1970s.

“Our goal is to do the best we can to comply with the city accepting our roads, curbs and gutters as they are currently constructed,” Lorenzo said.

Greemann said he went out and measured a couple of streets in Seymour, one in the Crestview neighborhood and a section of Vehslage Road where it hasn’t been widened, and both were around 19 feet and even the newly constructed West Second Street is 22 feet wide, he said.

“We are building wider streets than some of our current subdivisions, even though they are not specifically 33 feet” Lorenzo said. “Ultimately, we would like to build houses. That’s where we would like to be. We would like to sell lots and move this project forward.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.