Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

March 14, 2013

Lawsuit imminent in Boardman River flooding

TRAVERSE CITY — Two couples who live on the Boardman River will file a lawsuit over flooding caused by a breach during Brown Bridge Dam removal.

A letter sent by Traverse City lawyer Kristyn Houle on Feb. 19 notified multiple parties, including the city of Traverse City and the Boardman River Dams Implementation Team, of an imminent lawsuit. Houle said she will file suit in April on behalf of her clients Phil and Barbara Reneaud and David and Pamela Hoyt.

“We’ve given them 60 days notice,” Houle said, adding the lawsuit’s goal is “restoration of the river and restitution for our clients because of their property damage.”

City Manager Ben Bifoss declined comment. Chuck Lombardo, spokesman for the Boardman River Dams Implementation Team, said he was aware of the letter but noted it would be difficult to comment on a lawsuit that hasn’t been filed yet.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first filed in the aftermath of October flooding caused by a breach during dam removal. The Oct. 6 breach of a construction device at the dam sent most of the Brown Bridge Pond cascading into the Boardman, terrifying homeowners as the river rose several feet in a matter of minutes. At least 54 properties were damaged.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality continues to investigate the breach’s cause.

Brown Bridge Dam’s removal was part of a larger plan to remove three dams on the Boardman River.

in an October interview, Pam Hoyt said the flooding damaged belongings she values most - mementos and photos documenting her son’s childhood.

“The biggest thing is the stuff you can’t put a price on,” Hoyt said as she held damaged sketches and news clippings from her son’s youth.

“All of the newspaper articles, his drawings,” Hoyt said. “That’s the stuff they can’t make me throw away.”

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