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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 in Forks Township that clarifies who is responsible for fixing those problems.

In a year that saw more than , 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 .

Molly November 04, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Most states, municipalities includes swales as part of the storm water management systems (as in storm sewers). Proper maintence of swales prevents sinkholes and breakdowns of the storm sewer systems - because ALL swales are to be designed to run into the storm drains. When you have improperly kept swales, your storm drains with take the brunt of the run-off causing even more damage. It would behoove the township to include swales as part of the storm system management.
Veronica Charles November 04, 2011 at 05:35 PM
There is a part of the Forks Township Park this is a fenced off sink hole as well. I wonder why that STILL hasnt been fixed?
Jim English January 05, 2012 at 03:33 PM
As it turns out, the Township has an ordinance that covers sinkholes in swales (“Article III” of “Chapter 125. Nuisances”). The long and short of it is: the Township is required to declare the sinkhole a “public nuisance” whereby the landowner is obligated to complete repairs within 10 days of written notice from the Township. If the property owner fails to conduct such repairs, then the Township is authorized to make such repairs and bill the landowner. If the landowner still refuses to pay, the Township can place a lien against the property for all costs. Several months have now passed with zero action by the Township...go figure!?!?!

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