by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”Nearly 150 Sugar Grove residents attended Tuesday’s public hearing addressing the ongoing flooding in the Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks subdivisions. The turnout was so large, village officials relocated the meeting to the fire station.
Ultimately, the Village Board decided to table a vote that would have allowed the village to establish a Special Services Area (SSA) to address the flooding issues.
Residents who attended the Tuesday night meeting spoke out against the formation of an SSA, with many saying the board is rushing to this decision without knowing how much the special tax will cost them.
There are approximately 250 residences in Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks combined.
In a letter to the residents, the village stated that the SSA tax for a $200,000 home could be as much as $1,000 per year, but officials do not yet have enough information to determine the costs.
â€œThis feels a little premature to me,â€ Kyle Luetgert said. â€œIf you don’t know how much it’s going to cost, why are we here now?â€
Residents said they were concerned about their ability to pay the additional tax, especially given the current economic climate.
â€œA lot of people are out of work,â€ Mary Farley said. â€œI’m up to here with financial issues. Your timing is the worst possible.â€
Others said they thought the village had some culpability in the subdivision’s problems, dating back to when the village approved building on land that was destined to flood.
Blair Peters told the board that he blamed the village for allowing the retention pond to be built when it did not meet specifications, and releasing escrow funds to the builder that should have been used to fix the problems.
â€œNow you’re asking us to trust you that you’ll do this properly,â€ Peters said. â€œWe need more information. Some residents have already paid thousands of dollars to fix their own flooding problems.â€
In fact, if the SSA is enacted, this will only cover the cost of maintaining the retention pond. Funding to repair the broken drainage tiles and lay a large drain tile from the Mallard Point Subdivision south to Jericho Road could end up the responsibility of property owners throughout the Rob Roy Drainage District, an area that includes Mallard Point. This would mean additional fees charged to the residents.
Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said he understood the residents’ frustrations, and that village officials began discussions about the SSA in order to keep the process moving forward. Funding for the studies and preliminary work has so far been paid by the village.
â€œThe village is being proactive,â€ Village President Sean Michels said. â€œPeople in the village came to us last October and wanted us to do something to fix the problems. We have been moving forward with this. You all have to have some faith in us. We were elected by the residents of the village. We have a responsibility to them, as well.â€
The board agreed to discuss the issue again at its Nov. 17 meeting, when Trotter & Associates Mark Bushnell said he hopes to have the study completed.
History of the problem
Problems with the neighborhood date back to the mid-1990s, when Mallard Point was first built. After the first builder declared bankruptcy, two others took over before it was finally completed. Difficulties determining who was responsible for what problems go back to the beginning.
Although the annexation agreement called for the establishment of a homeowners association, one was never created. A proposal to create a special services area tax on the residents to pay for the maintenance of the common property areas never went beyond the discussion stages.
Residents began approaching the village last fall, when drainage and flooding issues worsened, complaining of standing water, flooded basements and excessive electric bills to continually run two and sometimes three sump pumps.
The village contracted the engineering firm Trotter & Associates to study the problem. The study so far has identified blockages in the water flow through the retention pond and broken and missing field tiles, as well as the possibility of naturally-occurring underground springs as factors that could be contributing to the flooding problems.