Street width, drainage points of contention for possible subdivision

Developers of the long-stalled Redbud Meadows subdivision on Seymour’s northeast side have reached another dead end with city officials.

On Thursday morning, the Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety voted 3-0 not to accept the 104-lot residential development’s completed streets and storm sewers due to concerns they still don’t meet drainage and street width requirements.

Columbus-based attorney Jeff Rocker represented Jeff Bush and Tom Greemann of Bushmann LLC, which is developing Redbud Meadows, at the meeting. Bushmann LLC also developed the neighboring Burkart Crossing apartments.

Rocker said he wasn’t aware of any comments or concerns city officials had with the most recent version of the plat for the proposed subdivision. Prices for homes in the 57-acre subdivision are expected to start at $250,000.

“I think we’re in a position now where the concerns have been resolved and we’re ready to move forward to final approval,” he said.

The project was proposed more than three years ago.

City attorney Rodney Farrow said there are still issues with the development’s streets because they are 30 feet wide instead of the required 33 feet. That wouldn’t be a problem if the streets remain privately owned and the development’s homeowners association takes responsibility for their maintenance, Farrow said.

Rocker said the developers want the city to accept the streets the way they are and assume maintenance responsibilities.

“The width certainly if anything has a positive impact on the city, because there is three feet less of asphalt to maintain,” he said.

The narrower street width also serves as a measure to slow down traffic, he added.

“Traditionally, we see a movement in land-use development to narrower streets,” Rocker said. “Most communities have moved to a 26 to 30 foot width.”

Rocker said he wasn’t sure why officials were concerned with the width because the area would still be accessible to police, fire and ambulance services.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said he didn’t want to see the city get into a legal battle with other developers who built roads to city code.

“Every other developer that has been forced to build them at 33 feet is going to be in here wanting money back,” Luedeman said.

He made the motion not to accept the streets.

Rocker asked why the city would approve preliminary plans for the project and then wait two years when it’s done and then “pull the rug out.”

Luedeman said the streets were never given final approval by the city and a stop order was issued to the developers before the roads were paved.

Greemann said he never received such a notice from the city.

Farrow said the city also has concerns with the development’s storm water management system and who will maintain it in the future.

“I think the indication was it would be accepted by the city once it was seen to be functional,” Rocker said. The storm water plan was approved by the county’s drainage board and has been executed, he added.

Greemann said during last Sunday’s heavy rain, the streets in the future development did not flood.

But Randy Hamilton, Seymour’s sewer utility director, said flooded streets are not the problem. He said he has not seen or approved any drainage plan for the storm water system.

“I think there have been some improvements to the system, but still, we have other issues,” he said. “The actual drain lines do not drain. They stand full of water and they are now full of sand. The catch flood basins have not been sealed.”

Hamilton doesn’t see how the drainage system can function properly because the detention pond is higher than the system, he said.

The drainage system was built as a “surcharge system,” where the water goes up through piping into the detention basin, said George Lucas, an engineer with Land Water Group in Columbus. That company worked on the drainage design for Bushmann LLC.

“The intention was that it was going to be an infiltration system,” he said. “The problem that we ran into was the groundwater elevations were higher than anticipated and they remain high.

“With a surcharge system, you’re going to have water in the pipes. That’s a given,” he added.

Even with the improvements that have been made, Hamilton said the storm water system still does not operate as it should. If the city were to accept the system now, it would not be able to clean the sewer lines because of the water that remains in them, he said.

Hamilton said the developers should have had a geotechnical survey done on the property first to know where the water table was located.

Lucas said they relied on well records for that information.

“Your due diligence is your problem,” Hamilton said.

Farrow said the best way for the project to proceed is for the developer to continue to own the road and storm sewer infrastructure and have it maintained by the homeowner’s association.

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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.