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Copley trustees grapple with flooding issues

5/29/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

The Copley Township Board of Trustees at the May 21 meeting grappled with how to mitigate repeated flooding in the township.

Although the township did not experience damage from the May 12 storm to the extent of neighboring Bath, several residences flooded, said Trustee Helen Humphrys.

Humphrys said she and other township officials met with personnel from the City of Akron and Summit County to discuss flooding in the Sunny Acres Drive/Copley Meadows area of the township where at least two homes flooded — and not for the first time. She said Akron officials disavowed responsibility for the flooding, which occurred near a city-owned sewer pumping station. Humphrys said city officials told her the township needed more storm sewers.

Township officials, however, seemed to think a combination of cleaning ditches and constructing a retention basin on city property would do more to fix the problem.

Humphrys said the township’s hands are tied when it comes to cleaning drainage ditches. Most are on private property and the township has been advised it cannot, for liability reasons, enter private property to clear the ditches so they can do their jobs. Humphrys has said the ditches have been rendered ineffective as they have been filled with silt, fallen trees and used as a disposal site for yard debris. Keeping drainage ditches clear is the responsibility of the property owners through which they run, she has said.

In addition, Summit County’s budget for clearing their ditches has been cut dramatically, trustees said.

Humphrys and Service Director Mark Mitchell said they think construction of a retention basin on property surrounding the city-owned pumping station located between Sunny Acres Drive and the Copley ditch would allow storm water to be collected and slowly released, reducing the likelihood of flooding in that area. Copley officials left the door open to using funds they have saved from the township share of taxes from the Joint Economic Development District agreement with Akron.

Trustees, however, had no solutions for Mary Woodie, of Cliffside Drive. Woodie and her husband bought the Cliffside property in December 2012, according to county tax records. Woodie said her home has flooded numerous times since purchasing the property she and her husband hoped to use as a retirement home. Woodie said there was no disclosure during the purchasing process that the property is prone to flooding.

Trustees said owners of neighboring properties complained to the board about standing water on the nuisance property while it was in foreclosure. The township fire department many times has pumped water from the home and its garage, trustees said.

Trustee Scott Dressler said anything Woodie does to prevent storm water from entering her property likely would cause flooding to her neighbors.

She was advised by trustees to seek legal counsel, as pursuing civil action against those who did not disclose the home’s defects likely was her only recourse.

Trustees promised to seek remedies to the flooding on their own.

“Somebody has got to do something,” said Humphrys.

Trustee Dale Panovich said too many people are losing property to the recurring floods. Many township residents have been dropped by their insurers, trustees said.

In other business, Fire Chief Michael Benson received authorization to hire eight contractual and part-time firefighter/paramedics to replace personnel who have retired or resigned. Trustees approved spending $19,000 — $1,000 for advertising and $18,000 for testing applicants. Benson said he is seeking four contractual firefighter/paramedics for Copley and four to be shared with Bath in staffing Station No. 2. Some costs will be shared with Bath upon approval by their trustees, he said.

Trustees approved an additional $9,400 for repairs to a township tractor used to mow road berms, bringing the total repair bill to just under $20,000. Mitchell said the damage to the tractor’s transmission was more extensive than first thought. Humphrys again said the township should seek to collaborate with neighboring communities when equipment of this type needs to be replaced.

In other action, trustees:

  • approved issuing proclamations congratulating Akron General Medical Center on its 100th anniversary and Chambrel at Montrose upon the opening of its Clare Bridge for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care community;
  • approved moving personnel costs for community events from the fire and police budgets to the General Fund. The departments have incurred approximately $130,000 in overtime this year for events such as Winterfest and “Hidden in Plain Sight” programs, said Fiscal Officer Janice Marshall; and
  • approved lengthening the maturity period for a township certificate of deposit from daily to up to 180 days as interest rates have fallen.

The board’s next meeting is set for June 4 at 6 p.m. at Copley Town Hall, 1540 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road.

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