Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 27, 2013

Residents struggle with erosion, runoff


McElyea said board members failed to consider how soil erosion, storm water management and drain code administration are interconnected. The diffusion of those responsibilities frustrates citizens who no longer have a one-stop shop for erosion and water runoff grievances.

Gray’s frustration stems from water that runs off a construction site near his home, across a private drive and into a retention basin on his property. The runoff deposited soils from the construction site into the basin, and now it won’t drain properly, he said.

Bruce Remai, the county’s director of building code enforcement, said the contractor on the project near Gray’s home has followed county codes and corrected issues when they’ve cropped up. The bigger problem is unusually heavy rains this summer and fall.

“If you’re trying to stabilize a site and get grass to grow and you’ve had rains like we’ve had, you’re going to have a problem,” Remai said.

Gafrield Township Supervisor Chuck Korn said the same thing about work in the Lone Tree Subdivision.

But McElyea said he’s witnessed violations of state soil erosion laws that he’s unable to fix at both locations -- and many others.

“In the good old days I used to be able to knock on the nuisance neighbor’s door and get a resolution, but I don’t have the authority anymore,” he said.

Gray and Thomas said they’ve been told to be patient. With time, soil will settle, grass will grow back and the problem will fix itself, officials told them.

Thomas said that’s an unacceptable response from contractors and local officials.

“They have a responsibility to neighbors to follow the bylaws and follow code and do what’s right,” he said.

Inman said county and township officials will meet soon to discuss problems akin to those raised by Thomas and Gray.

“Either we’ve got to put (the drain commissioner) position back together again, or we’ve got to figure out a way the public can go to the right people and get these things done right,” he said.

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