Council Considers Fee for Wal-Mart Storm Drainage

By Beth Church

Although the proposed WalMart store along U.S. Route 20 will be located in Perrysburg Township, its stormwater will flow into the Rossford city stormwater drainage system.

Rossford City Council is considering how to assess the retailer a fee for the drainage rights.

At a February 26 meeting, City Administrator Ed Ciecka explained the effects of the new store's drainage on the system.

Stormwater would collect in a detention pond on the Wal-Mart property, and then flow into the 48-inch pipe at Deimling and Simmons roads and through Dry Creek.

Dry Creek flows east but does not, as commonly thought, empty into the barrow pond along the Carpenters union hall, he said.

The stormwater would be metered out into the storm system at a rate that does not flood the system, he explained.

Wal-Mart officials have asked for permission to tap into the city storm system, and Mr. Ciecka recommended a $45,000 fee.

That fee was calculated by Bill Moll, consulting engineer for the city, who developed a stormwater drainage plan for the Crossroads in 1999.

Mr. Ciecka suggested that the fee be placed into a capital account to pay expenses when the property along Deimling Road comes up for improvement.

Councilman Greg Marquette questioned what would happen if the city refused to allow the drainage.

Mr. Ciecka explained, in that case, Wal-Mart would have to drain across Simmons Road and negotiate with a private property owner for the drainage to take another route.

However, Dry Creek is a county ditch, and the city does not have the authority to prohibit Wal-Mart access, he said.

Councilman Jim Richards recalled that when the Crossroads area initially was developed, the county engineer's office advised city officials that they are required to provide a drainage system, although "reasonable controls" can be established.

Council member Caroline Zuchowski-Eckel asked whether city officials should consider holding Wal-Mart responsible for any future maintenance costs.

"There is some wear and tear on that storm sewer line," she said.

East of Simmons Road, the storm system is undeveloped, Mr. Ciecka said, adding "future improvements will be necessary."

Mrs. Eckel also noted that Wal-Mart would be receiving the same privileges as businesses located within the city limits.

"They [Wal-Mart] are in direct competition with all the businesses in the Crossroads," she said.

Mayor Bill Verbosky and several council members asked whether the flow from Wal-Mart would diminish the capacity for other future development in the area.

Dry Creek provides drainage for a portion of the property where Bass Pro intends to build.

"We don't want to see that burdened with flow and hinder Bass Pro's development," the mayor said.

Mrs. Eckel, who is a civil engineer, said development projects usually restrict the flow to the same level as prior to construction.

"If we follow that, we shouldn't have a problem with Wal-Mart using up all the capacity," she explained.

Several council members suggested that the city should consider establishing a stormwater utility fee for adjacent property owners.

Mr. Ciecka noted that would be a new practice for the city.

Councilman Ken Hermes said the new development in the area might be a reason to change the city's practice.

"We don't have a precedent because we haven't done this before," he said.

Mayor Verbosky summarized three areas of concern on the project: whether the city can charge a maintenance fee, whether there is a water flow issue, and whether the city would have any liability for flooding problems on Wal-Mart's property.

Mr. Ciecka said he would research the issue and provide council with more information.

Other Business

In other business, council:

  • Heard from Mr. Ciecka that public works employees will be removing trees along Highland and Homestead drives that are diseased.

"They will be removing trees in the right-of-way as time and weather permits," he said.

The affected trees have been inspected by the city street tree commission, Mr. Ciecka explained.

Diseased trees located on private property are the responsibility of individual property owners, he added.

The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m., Monday, March 12, at the municipal building, 133 Osborn Street. The meeting is open to the public.