Residents petition for help with flooding

Don Campbell / HP staff The Coloma Charter Township Hall is pictured April 7, 2018.

COLOMA — The owners of 60 properties on and around Paw Paw Lake Road have petitioned Coloma Township to help with the water problems they are having on their property.

Patricia Owens presented the petition to the Township Board at its meeting Wednesday night. 

“Our family has owned the property for nearly 100 years and we have a chronic and systemic water flooding and water drainage issue,” she said. “We need to get our water to a county drain, but the closest county drain isn’t close enough for us to divert our water.”

Owens said it’s not possible either to lay tile and divert water around structures to county catch basins because those are only approved to take surface runoff water. 

The Berrien County Road Department, County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin and Township Supervisor Ken Parrigin all said the only option was to petition Coloma Township to request the drain commissioner study the relevant drainage issues and determine what the best solution might be.

Owens said she got most of the property owners in the area to sign the petition, even if they aren’t dealing with water problems. She said she couldn’t reach some neighbors with flooding problems and some signed just so the issue could be resolved for their neighborhood. 

Sixteen of the properties are on Paw Paw Lake Road between Newton Avenue and Interlochen Road. There are 16 more properties behind those along Interlochen Road, and 17 properties on Newton Avenue are having problems. 

Residents of Rosemary Drive and Pine Court were at June’s Township Board meeting to raise concerns about the flooding that happens in their area every time it rains. Owners of those 11 properties signed the petition as well.  

The county expanded ditches in the area shortly after that meeting, but it only relieved some of the water problems. 

Quattrin is already reviewing some of the properties connected to the Kelley Drain, but Owen said her property and a lot of the others mentioned in the petition aren’t even in a drain district.  

“Sixty properties are having an issue that are in a very small radius around our properties, which indicates there is a problem, and it’s not just this year, it’s been going on for a number of years,” Owens said. “We all desperately need your help and your persistence in reviewing the issues and resolving them accordingly.”

Parrigin said he is more than happy to give the petition to the Quattrin and get this process started. 

“They’ll make a determination on their own, have some engineers look at it, then see what needs to be done,” he said. “Then they’ll hold a determination here, with three people on a panel, to explain what’s going on. You state your facts and that’s how it starts.”

Parrigin said if the project is approved it’ll go onto the tax roll to be paid by the property owners. 

“They’re going to say, ‘Yes these people need a drain.’ Then they’re going to put a number on it and divide that number between all these people,” he said. “We just got done with one for almost $1 million. ... and the township has to pay a great portion of it too.”

Township Board members agreed it is something that needs to be addressed, but they’re at the hands of the county. 

“I wish we had more control over digging ditches and controlling the water, but we don’t,” Parrigin said.

In other business, Trustee Robert Harper told the board that the live fire training at 3066 Friday Road set for Saturday was pushed back to Oct. 27.

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman