By JIM MAURER
TIFFIN — After more than an hour of discussion, the Seneca County commissioners on Thursday approved a petition by landowners to clear the west branch of Wolf Creek of logjams, leaning trees, and sand/silt bars. The commissioners also passed a resolution setting assessments for property owners.
The county will front the $280,000 project cost and be reimbursed.
More than 60 people attended Thursday’s hearing in the county Public Safety Building at the fairgrounds. Most who spoke during the 90-minute meeting voiced concerns about their assessment, while several encouraged the county to move ahead with the work, which has been discussed for decades.
Several people said if Sandusky County does not do creek-clearing work on the northern edge of the improvement area, that will create more problems for the Bettsville area.
But Commissioner Fred Zoeller said he has met with Sandusky County officials and was told if Seneca County improved the water flow, Sandusky County would make necessary improvements.
Seneca County Engineer Mark Zimmerman repeated his statement made last week that the benefits outweigh the cost of the project.
Sand/silt bars which obstruct the “total flow of the channel” will be removed.
The project area will be from the Seneca/Hancock County line near Alvada to the Seneca/Sandusky County line near Bettsville.
Assessment estimates already have been determined and issued to property owners.
Zimmerman said there are 4,400 parcels within the creek’s watershed. Assessments were done in three zones, with Zone 1 properties being buffer areas along the creek, up to 500 feet away. Zone 2 properties are more than 500 feet to 1,000 feet away, and Zone 3 properties are more than 1,000 feet away.
Properties closest will have the highest assessments.
Most assessments were under $25. There is a $10 minimum and the assessment also includes a 10 percent charge to establish a maintenance fund for continued upkeep of the drainage channel.
Zimmerman encouraged the 74 property owners who front the drainage ditch to do their own work, since it would be cheaper. He will meet with landowners who want to do their own work and walk their properties to mark trees, logjams and sand/silt bars.
He said some of the estimated assessments have changed because the county’s figures were determined a year ago, prior to several windstorms.
Assessments will not be placed on real estate tax bills until at least 2015, Zimmerman said, depending on when the work is done.
Work may begin late this year after the fall harvest, but more likely will be done in the summer and fall of 2015, he said.
Maurer: 419-427-8420 Send an E-mail to Jim Maurer
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