Forks: Your Sinkhole, Your Problem
A new policy would clarify responsibility for sinkholes and stormwater runoff in Forks Township.
A new sinkhole and storm water policy was introduced at Thursday's supervisors meeting in Forks Township that clarifies who is responsible for fixing those problems.
In a year that saw more than 24 inches above average rainfall, township solicitor Karl Kline said residents have been asking the township to fix swales and sinkholes. For that reason, it was time to establish a policy.
Essentially, the new policy states that if a sinkhole or stormwater system is on public property, then the township will fix it, but if it is on private property, then it’s the owner’s responsibility.
In the past, the township has spent more than $1 million fixing swales – a channel that diverts stormwater runoff – on both private and public property. This includes the swale at Sycamore Hills that has gotten so deep and collects so much water that residents says it has become dangerous.
Sycamore Avenue resident James English told supervisors that when he moved into his home, there was barely a trickle in the swale. “Now there’s tons more water,” he said, “up to 2-feet deep.”
English said that over time new developments, such as Pheasant Ridge Estates, created a greater burden on the swale.
“I want the swale restored and fixed,” he said.
But Kline said even though the township may have helped repair the swale in the past, it has no legal obligation to correct a growing problem now. The developer and homeowners are ultimately responsible for it.
There was some confusion, however, about who exactly built the swale. English said the township built it, but supervisors said it was the developer.
“Let’s find out who did what, and who owns it,” said Supervisor Chairman David Billings.
The township engineer was also asked to go to Sycamore Hills to look over the swale and a culvert and report back to the supervisors.
Likewise, Kline was directed to make some changes to the new stormwater policy and will submit the revision at the next supervisors meeting, Nov. 17.