South Russell Village Addresses Water Issues
July 15, 2021

Storm water management, culvert capacity and flooding took center stage once more at the South Russell Village Council meeting July 12. 

Storm water management, culvert capacity and flooding took center stage once more at the South Russell Village Council meeting July 12.

Several residents requested permission to state their case again, particularly in the Country Estates and Preserve of Chagrin area.

Residents like Doug Meil came prepared with a slide presentation of the water story in his backyard and beyond. His neighbor, Eric Doland, was on hand and in some of the many photos presented outlining the perpetual problems with standing and running water.

Complaints and dissatisfaction were launched at Mayor Bill Koons, claiming he has not been impartial in the process and his administration continues to blame Country Estates for all the water issues.

“It always goes back to Country Estates,” said Doland, adding they are tired of perpetually being blamed for the water issues when they have shown photo evidence Country Estate ponds do not overflow creating the standing water.

Teaberry Circle resident John Novak took exception to the vast material presented by Meil, saying his reference does not go far enough, nor show properties in their entirety. He said in other sectors not shown, water was pouring out of ponds.

Engineer Eric Haibach said he was encouraged by residents’ comments.

“It shows good progress that residents are seeking solutions on their own,” he said.

Haibach said although village council had approved an aerial survey, the geospatial consultant found in a pre-flight report the tree cover of summer growth may not allow an aerial survey to capture necessary information. The drone LiDAR process originally planned is an aerial approach to measure and record objects using laser light capturing a 3D representation of the earth’s surface.

He recommended waiting to do an aerial survey until October once leaves dropped.

Haibach mentioned a “boots on the ground” approach for surveying, but said the cost would be more than double the $12,000 originally approved.

“If we do a pared down benchline approach, it may not tell the whole story,” he said. “We need all the information in order to make progress.

Jen Lyndall, president of the Preserve of Chagrin Homeowners Association, pointing to the Teaberry Circle property, said before the HOA or anyone spends funds, they need the survey to give direction.

“We are not here to pick winners and losers,” said council member Mark Porter.

After more than an hour, Koons cut off the discussion and instead referred everyone to the Aug. 9 council meeting to further discuss.

Resident Ralph Richards also took exception to his property needing culvert replacement for “…going on 20 years.”

He pointed to overflow issues that required him to spend thousands of dollars to replace a driveway that is still being flooded by a 10-foot culvert where, in his opinion, a 36-foot culvert is needed.

Haibach reported a grant has been requested to replace three culvert pipes across Bell Road and is expected to result in work being performed in June 2022.

Richards was not happy with that timeline.

Council members discussed the fact culverts are relatively easy and quick fixes to handle stormwater under Chillicothe Road, but questioned if that would lead to problems elsewhere.

A $100,000 Ohio Public Works Commission grant is in the works for culvert replacement along Chillicothe Road as a responsible way to fix the problem, starting with the lowest point and working up from there, Haibach said, adding a possible retention pond may be called for, however, these involve great cost and property commitments on the part of residents. The Manorbrook area is also being examined for improvement.

Moreland Hills Mayor Dan Fritz attended Monday’s meeting to present a plan for improving the Chagrin Valley Fire Department property.

Described by Koons as “an excellent example of regionalism and one that council is happy with,” the joint fire district encompasses the villages of South Russell, Bentleyville, Moreland Hills, Hunting Valley and Chagrin Falls Township.

Fritz explained funds are needed to modernize the fire house and grounds. The project will cost $1.5 million dollars of which $700,000 has already been raised. Among other items, space and facilities are required to support the growing number of female firefighters.

He said a non-binding resolution is being requested by fall to establish an escrow account.

In other business, council approved a motion to adopt a new formula for the distribution of Undivided Local Government Funds beginning in 2022. The process, as approved by the Geauga County Budget Commission, will likely provide additional revenue to South Russell Village’s annual budget.

In his report, Koons reported new septic standards for Geauga County are being required to begin in 2022.  Also, all future village council meetings and committee meetings will be available in a hybrid format going forward once personnel are properly trained in the technology.