Expert says solution to Cobblestone drainage problem is proper grading.
Several Cobblestone Drive property-owners in Grandville Phase 1 built by Zitia Group have complained to the county that storm water ponds on their backyards throughout the year because their properties are significantly lower than the properties adjoining their backyards from Marriott Place in Grandville Phase 2, constructed by Activa.
The complaint has been unresolved for at least two years, despite several staff reports, an investigation by the county's C.A.O. and several delegations by upset residents to council meetings.
The developers of both subdivisions claim they have no responsibility for the problem and point to the county--which gave final approval for the grading plans and released the developers' deposits--for a solution.
Norm Litchfield of Meritech Engineering presented his report at a special meeting of county council on Sept. 28. He said that despite final approval of the grading plan, drainage swales at the sides of the Cobblestone Drive yards were not fully completed and allowed water to escape into the backyards.
Litchfield pointed out other discrepancies from the drainage plan such as soakaway pits that were not installed in Phase 2 as designed because it was discovered that soils were not conducive to the design; and berms that were not installed as shown on the lot grading plans.
His recommendations included:
* swales that need to be constructed along lot lines in Phase 1 properties;
* roof troughs from homes in Phase 2 lots that need to be directed to Marriott Place;
* berms indicated on the approved grading plan that need to be installed in accordance with those plans.
The county's solicitor Andrew Wright told council that the county has no legally liability for the drainage problems. He said that the county could require that the rear yard berms in Phase 2 could be constructed by the developer since the subdivision had not yet been assumed by the county. However, in order for the berms to be effective, the lot line swales need to be constructed in the Cobblestone backyards to the rear lot lines.
Due to the fact that the developer's Consulting Engineer had certified that the lot grading of Phase 1 was in accordance with the grading plan and that the county has assumed Phase 1, fixing the grading became the responsibility of the property owners, Wright said. The county could pay for the swale work with permission from the property-owners, he said, but it would set a precedent for other drainage issues in the county.
Litchfield told council that because approval for grading in subdivision agreements is worded "generally in conformity," it allows leeway for interpretation. He also noted that the county has no requirement for lot lines from one subdivision to line up with those of an abutting subdivision.
Wright also said that the homeowners still have the right to sue the builder, developer, certifying engineer, and the county for the drainage problems. County staff relies on certification for the lot grading by the developers' own engineer.
County council voted to refer the Meritech report to public works staff and ask it to draw up a workplan to install the swales and berms on the properties, with property owners' permission. Property owners would still likely be responsible for the cost of the work.
Cindy Compeau, Director of Public Works, told county council on Oct. 5 that she did not know when her department's report and workplan would be ready for council review.