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Bergamot drainage issue results in lawsuit

Solon couple seeks damages from builder, developer and city

SOLON– A Solon couple claims their residential lot was incorrectly graded and was serviced by an undersized storm water intake prior to a damaging 2016 flood, according to a civil suit filed in Johnson County District Court April 14.
Marty and Jessica Kelchen, of 716 Bergamot Ln., seek unspecified damages from North Corridor Custom Homes, Inc., Fox Run Development, Inc., MMS Consultants, Inc. and the City of Solon.
In a civil petition and demand for jury submitted by attorney James L. Sines of Cedar Rapids, the Kelchens allege negligence resulting in damage to their home and loss of property and income after a heavy rainfall Aug. 11-12, 2016.
The suit alleges North Corridor Custom Homes knew of a water drainage issue on Lot 51 of the Fox Ridge Part Two subdivision and was negligent in its grading of the lot and construction of the home.
The petition also claimed MMS Consultants, hired by Fox Run Development to design storm sewers, miscalculated the drainage area. The City of Solon supervised and approved the grading of the lot and storm sewer designs, the lawsuit said, which was also a proximate cause of the damage sustained in the flood.
As much as 8 inches of rain fell on Solon in a matter of hours Thursday evening, Aug. 11, 2016, sending local creeks surging out of their banks and threatening to overtake the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Coupled with a power outage, the flash flooding that followed caused extensive damage to a number of Solon homes and prompted the city to declare a local disaster declaration.
Damage was reported at Lakeview Elementary, the Solon Fire Station and in the basements of a reported 20-25 homes across town, including at least eight homes on Wood Lily Road and Bergamot Lane, according to city officials.
Most of the residential damage was caused by sump pumps unable tokeep up with the rising water or disabled during an approximately one-hour power outage for Alliant Energy customers.
Subsequent to the flooding, Solon Mayor Steve Stange called for the city to create a storm water committee to consider options for mitigation, including those residences hardest hit by the storms.
At an Oct. 19, 2016, city council meeting, City Engineer Dave Schechinger presented a concept plan to address the large volume of water running between 714 and 716 Bergamot Lane.
Schechinger said an underground collection pipe, designed to handle a five-year rain event, would be installed on an easement between the two residences. Any additional storm water would continue to flow on the ground between the two homes, he said.
The amount flowing above ground would still be significant, Schechinger noted, and would require some additional work by property owners to prevent water flowing into basement window wells.
The project represented only a small portion of what needed to be done, he said, but any other long- term solutions would likely involve other entities in the decision-making process.
City Administrator Cami Rasmussen indicated the concept had been approved by the storm water committee members and by affected property owners.
“We wanted to get the concept in front of council because we’re facing weather and if we’re going to do this we need to get things going and get this pipe in the ground so that we’re prepared for any spring rains,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen indicated the city would use recoupment fees to pay for the improvement, with the hopes the city would be reimbursed at some time in the future.
“I definitely think it’s the right thing to do,” said Stange. “That was a pretty devastating thing for those folks to go through. We know we’re going to have a long- term fix in the future but that could be years.”
Schechinger estimated the cost of the project at $67,000, but when council members awarded the project at a Jan.uary 18 meeting, the winning bid from Bill Witters Construction Company was only $46,200.68.
At a May 17 city council meeting, Public Works Director Scott Kleppe reported the project was substantially completed, with only a fence to relocate.
The city has not yet responded officially to the civil suit filed by the Kelchens, although the council did conduct a closed session April 5 to discuss pending litigation. Lawyers for the three co-defendants have filed answers denying the allegations.