Thank you for the encouragement to get off my butt and fight my flooding issue with my neighbor and my town. To most of you this may be BORING, but if you’re interested, this is where things stand right now…
I wrote a letter to the zoning officer of my town and mailed it two days ago. This was my letter (with some identifying details changed):Dear Mr. Zoning Officer,
The alterations made at 26 Willis Drive adversely affected water flow from 26 Willis Drive to my property at 24 Willis Drive. The alteration caused, and continues to cause, drastic flooding damage to my property. Because the Township granted my neighbor permission to perform the alterations, which changed the water flow between the two properties, I request assistance from the Township Zoning Office to immediately address the issue.Not only does water pour onto the front portion of 26 Willis Drive, it then flows along the southern edge of the abandon road, due to what remains of the crowning of that road. This water floods the rear portion of the abandon road and floods my property, causing damage every time it rains, as seen in the attached pictures and these videos: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQVqNw1HtBg and www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZpv7H4vS8UTo correct the issue, the Township must enforce Ordinance No. xx-98, requiring my neighbor to remove the remaining pavement from the vacated abandon road, and replace the asphalt with a pervious material spanning no less than 5 feet from the property line between 26 Willis Drive & 24 Willis Drive, in accordance with current Township building codes. In previous correspondences, you’ve stated that the Township could not enforce Ordinance xx-98 until the property owner decided to alter the property. Specifically, in your letter dated August 2, 2011, you stated “Neither this office nor the Code Enforcement Office has enforcement jurisdiction over Ordinance No. xx-98 unless the property owner decides to alter, enlarge, build, construct, or re-build as you did.”My neighbor began to alter, enlarge, construct, and re-build his driveway in October 2012. As such, his property is no longer outside the jurisdiction of Ordinance No. xx-98. The recurring flooding damage to my property due to alterations approved by the Township demand your immediate attention.Your timely response including your intended action is appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Hi Liz, Mr. Freeholder received your email and spoke to me immediately about your property. He asked that I get back to you with an update on the issues with your neighbor and his property. As you note your neighbor modified his property/driveway in violation of construction code . He was notified by the township that he needed to correct the work and he ignored our correspondence. After he was given sufficient time to apply for permits and correct the issues the Construction Code Official issued a fine to him. Your neighbor still has not addressed the situation and he was finally issued a summons to appear before the Municipal Judge. He did not show up to Court and the Judge issued and a warrant for his arrest a set bail at $500. Your neighbor informed the Court staff here that he was moving out of the area and would let the new owner deal with this issue. I learned this week that his case is on the docket for this Monday in our court. I will let you know next week what happens in Court.The flooding last Monday was extensive all over the area. Several roads had to be closed and almost a dozen cars needed to be towed after getting stuck in standing water. Even after your neighbor’s property is corrected to code standards rain of that magnitude will still result in flooding of your property. Your video shows the rain pouring over the storm drain on Willis Drive adjacent to his property. Our storm water systems are not designed for the magnitude of water we experienced last Monday. The national weather service reported 4.2 inches of rain fell during a 3 hour window.
So not a bad response, and a big shout out to Mr. Freeholder for lighting a fire under this dude’s butt, but still not really satisfying. Especially the part saying there will still be flooding to my property. Good thing I have video from at least one other occasion this summer showing similar flooding (see this post). But it doesn’t sound like he’s going to take responsibility for this at all. Totally not acceptable. FYI – I haven’t heard anything from the zoning officer.
This is my response to the town administrator:
Thank you for your timely and considerate response. There are a few items which need further clarification:
1. What are the Townships’ intentions for enforcing Ordinance xx-98? If enforced for 26 Willis Dr, and Mr. Neighbor removed the asphalt road in its entirety, my property would no longer flood. When we sought township approval to comply with xx-98, the Township informed me in writing they would enforce the Ordinance with Mr. Neighbor as soon as he made alterations to his property. With the latest construction at 26 Willis Dr, it appears as though the Township is extending liberties to Mr Neighbor with regards to Ord xx-98.
2. The flooding and damage to my property was not limited to this last storm. I chose to document the latest damage after previous rains provided the same end results. It is totally unacceptable to say that there will still be flooding damage to my property after he finishes his work. I jumped through several hoops, including hiring an engineer, submitting a topographic survey, submitting an as-built survey, setting up an escrow account with the town, going to court several times to prove that my changes were not adversely affecting Mr. Neighbor. I am owed the same rights as Mr. Neighbor. The zoning office must ensure that changes he makes to his property do not adversely affect my property, which they are.
3. The storm drains were not only unacceptable on September 3. They routinely do not collect enough water. This video is from June 28, 2013 www.youtube.com/watch?v=
4. Judge Doofus cannot fairly rule on any case involving Mr. Neighbor. I have previously been in Judge Doofus’s courtroom, pressing harassment charges against Mr. Neighbor, and Judge Doofus declared a mistrial, stating that he has a relationship with Mr. Neighbor outside of court. Mr. Neighbor and Judge Doofus share a love for cars and have done business together related to Mr. Neighbor’s car dealership. The case was sent to another town. I would assume that if Judge Doofus was not able to rule fairly on that case, that he also not be able to rule fairly on this case.
It gives you a headache, right!? I haven’t sent the last email/letter yet. I am open to suggestions and feedback. Anyone? Sorry again to be such a downer tonight. I hope you are having a way more exciting Friday night than me!