Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 6, 2013

Grand Traverse County sued over pond dewatering

TRAVERSE CITY — A husband and wife argue their property south of Traverse City lost substantial value because of the ongoing Boardman River Dam Removal project, and they're suing Grand Traverse County for compensation.

The lawsuit, filed in circuit court late last month by Ronald and Landa Alpers, states the Alpers' Williams Road property located on Boardman Pond, also known as Keystone Pond, has gone from "a very valuable waterfront parcel to a piece of property that overlooks a large contaminated mudflat," because of a temporary drawdown of the Boardman Pond in 2007 and erosion caused by the drawdown, court records state.

"Essentially what it boils down to is the county, in its decision to take down the dams and dewater the pond, is taking a valuable piece of their property away," said Kristyn Houle, the Alpers' Traverse City-based attorney.

Pond draining was done in part to prepare for the eventual removal of Boardman Dam, according to court records.

The Alpers are seeking at least $245,000 from the county, a halt to the dewatering of the pond and an order to re-flood the pond, court records state.

The lawsuit also asks for an alternative order to reconstruct the Boardman River along the Alpers' property once the dam removals are complete.

Bob Cooney, county prosecutor and the county's civil counsel, did not return a call for comment.

Houle and Karen Ferguson, co-counsel for the Alpers, also represent a group of Boardman River property owners who filed suit over removal of the Brown Bridge Dam. They contend their property values dropped when the river’s water levels rose.

That suit names as defendants the city of Traverse City, engineering firm AMEC, Molon Excavating and the Boardman River Dams Settlement Agreement Implementation Team.

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