Dispute over ditch ongoing

Photo courtesy of Raymond Lynch
Dysar ditch, once a dry rock path that rarely held water, now is a rushing creek that has eroded the hill behind Raymond Lynch’s home into a sheer cliff 25 feet from his back door. Lynch wants the city to fix the problem before his house plummets to the bottom of the ravine.

A dispute between whether the city of Reynoldsburg should pay for repairs on an eroding stream on private property continued at the Nov. 24 city council meeting.

In attendance at the meeting were Robert Schwartz and his neighbor Raymond Lynch, who both reside on Fall River Road.

In 1997 when Schwartz placed an offer on his house, Dysar ditch, which ran behind his house, was a dry creek bed. Occasionally after a hard rain, a tiny brook would form, but it would only remain a few days, Schwartz told council members.

Because Schwartz "had never lived close to water," he hired a contractor to survey the ditch before he signed the contract, he said.

The contractor reassured him that his property was on a 500-year flood plane; therefore the probability of his property flooding would be 0.5 percent per year.

Eleven years later, the ditch is a flowing stream. It still may not flood his property, but if it continues to erode his backyard then his house will fall into the ravine, Schwartz said.

Lynch said the creek already has eroded the slope on his property into a cliff – the edge of which lies only 25 feet from his house.

"The erosion will first get Mr. Lynch’s house and mine won’t be too far behind," Schwartz said.

A contractor submitted a bid to the city of $65,000 to repair the erosion, Lynch said.

The question "that’s up in the air" is who should pay, Lynch said. "The erosion needs arrested and I can’t afford to pay," he said. "I am not flush with money."

By law, the repair requires a contractor authorized by both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, otherwise Lynch said he would simply dump a pile of rocks down the ravine and then pour cement over top.

The city is not required to pay for repairs to private property, city attorney Jed Hood told council members at a previous meeting.

However, the increased water flow is the result of public storm sewers in new developments emptying into the once-dry ditch, Lynch said. Water that once drained into farm fields now drains into storm sewers that lead to Dysar ditch.

Lynch tracked the ditch upstream to new Columbus housing developments north of Broad Street, he told council members.

By law, the developer of those subdivisions cannot allow more storm water to enter Dysar ditch than what flowed into the ditch when the land was a farm.
Lynch said Reynoldsburg has not yet provided him with numbers that the city should have documenting the flow rate of the ditch before and after the construction of the new homes.
Schwartz said the impact of those subdivisions has been dramatic.

"You can sit in the house after we have received two inches of rain and hear the roar coming down the ditch," Schwartz said. "That never happened before."

Council member Ron Stake said development north of Broad Street affects the water flow.

"I lived across the street from (Dysar ditch) from 1991 to 2005 and the development north of Broad Street really did make a difference," he said. "The water really did start to rush through there."

Recently, Reynoldsburg paid $98,800 to fix the ditch after a homeowner across the ravine on Instone Drive almost lost its house to erosion, Lynch said.

The repair saved the Instone house but directing the rushing water toward Schwartz and Lynch’s properties, they said.

Storm water utility fees should pay for the repairs, Lynch said.

Other news
• Auditor Richard Harris told the council that President George W. Bush declared the area including Reynoldsburg a national disaster after the Sept. 15 windstorm.
The city will ask FEMA for as much as $17,000 in disaster relief funds.
"Hopefully we can come back to council with money in a short amount of time," Harris said.

• A special finance committee meeting scheduled prior to the Nov. 25 city council meeting was cancelled.
The meeting was to discuss the city budget, but because the current draft involves the city spending $600,000 more than it makes, the council will not approve it, Stake said.
Reynoldsburg will work with an interim budget until the mayor and his advisers present a balanced budget to the council in April, Stake said.

• Effective Jan. 1, Reynoldsburg water and sewer rates will raise.
Columbus supplies the services to Reynoldsburg and Columbus is raising its rates, city council member Ron Stake said.
The water rate will rise from $4.28 per 1,000 gallons to $4.64 and the sewer rate will rise from $4.93 per 1,000 gallons to $5.75.

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