Tag Archives: Mallard Point

Village Board postpones vote on SSA proposal

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday postponed until April the vote to propose the establishment of a special service area (SSA) in the Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks subdivisions.

The proposal is the first step in establishing a method to charge Mallard Point and Rolling Oak residents for the maintenance of the retention pond and other stormwater infrastructure that affects the residents of the two subdivisions.

The next step would be for the board to establish the SSA, and the last and final step would be to approve an annual rate.

Approximately 70 Mallard Point residents who attended the Village Board meeting on Tuesday had a number of questions and concerns regarding the SSA and how it would affect them, as well as comments that they didn’t feel the village did its due diligence when the subdivision was being built.

Approximately 20 of those in attendance reported that they currently experience flooding in and around their homes. Some of the residents said they think the village should take some responsibility for the problems that currently exist.

“Why didn’t the village take the responsibility to make sure that these people (the builders) dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s?” resident Linda Sackett asked. “You put the responsibility back on the people. Where’s your responsibility, Sean (Michels, village president)? We were told the property should not have been built on.”

Trustee Tom Renk said he took umbrage with residents blaming the current members of the board for their problems, when they were not on the board when the development was originally approved in the mid-1990s. However, Jim Stone, a homeowner in Mallard Point, said that did not excuse the current board from doing the right thing now.

The annexation agreement the village negotiated with the developer at the time allows the village to create an SSA, and waives the right of the homeowners to oppose it.

Although the board has been discussing Mallard Point’s problems for over a year, some board members, such as Rick Montalto, also a resident of the Mallard Point Subdivision, were still not comfortable that they had enough information to vote on the SSA.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions, and I don’t feel comfortable moving forward,” Montalto said.

The vote will be placed on the agenda for the Tuesday, April 6, meeting.

SSA charges
According to Finance Director Justin VanVooren, the maximum that the village could charge residents under the terms of the SSA is $1.50 per every $100 of Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) or $1,000 annually for a $200,000 home.

However, the average cost for a Mallard Point homeowner is more likely to be close to $185 for the first five years, and $125 for the first five years for a resident of Rolling Oaks.

“This comes back to a trust issue,” he said. “The $1,000 limit was passed just in case additional maintenance needs to be done.”

Project timeline
The village began an investigation into the subdivision’s flooding problems in fall 2008, when residents began to report recurring groundwater issues and elevated water levels. The village hired Trotter & Associates to conduct a study of the development’s problems, and in June 2009, village officials began working with Kane County representatives and Rob Roy Drainage Ditch officials to determine what fixes were needed and who should pay for them.

The village’s expenditures for the study and the work done so far to begin to address the issues are approaching $100,000. The SSA would pay for this amount, as well as the ongoing maintenance work.

Residents seek flooding resolution

by Susan O’Neill
Mallard Point residents still had questions for the village on Tuesday night after project engineer Mark Bushnell explained the findings of his inspection of their storm water management system.

Bushnell, a project engineer with Trotter and Associates, said he found mud and overgrown vegetation blocking the water flow from the subdivision, causing the neighborhood’s drainage problems and flooding. Bushnell said the blockages are likely the work of beavers and muskrats.

Blockages of the structures created to allow the storm water to drain has increased the level of the subdivision’s retention pond two feet higher and the wetlands to the south two-and-a-half feet higher than they should be. Bushnell estimated that there are 17 acres of excess storm water in the area.

The Village Board agreed to hire a contractor or have public works employees remove six inches of the vegetation blocking the structure at the southern edge of the development to allow the water to drain slowly to the south.

Village President Sean Michels said he was reluctant to clear out the entire blockage at once, because this would flood the property to the south. This property, which includes the retention pond, belongs to long-time area resident and Police Chief Brad Sauer.

But Mallard Point residents present at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting wanted to know why the village did not do more to protect the homeowners when the development was initially built.

When construction began on the Mallard Point Subdivision in the early 1990s, the developer improved an existing wetland for use as a storm water management facility. The first developer went bankrupt, and construction was completed by another developer who took over the project.

Typically, a homeowners association regulates maintenance in the common areas of a subdivision and collects fees with which to pay for it. Although there was a clause in the annexation agreement for the creation of a homeowners association, one was never formed.

During previous meetings with the village, Mallard Point residents have complained of standing water, flooded basements and excessive electric bills to continually run two and sometimes three sump pumps.

“Mistakes were made, and the village needs to take ownership,” said Blair Peters, who lives on Brookhaven Circle within the subdivision.

Trustee Mary Heineman said that unfortunately, the village is now learning from mistakes that were made at the time the subdivision was built.

Michels said that once the debris is removed, the next step would be to identify a list of items necessary for ongoing maintenance of the property.

“This would give us the ability to price that out,” he said. “Then, we’ll see what is involved.”

Village attorney Steven Andersson said there is a clause in the annexation agreement, which includes the Rolling Oaks Subdivision, that would allow the formation of a Special Services Area. Through the SSA, the village could charge residents an annual fee for the ongoing maintenance of the storm water system.

Trustee Mari Johnson said that although she sympathized with the Mallard Point residents, she wanted to make sure they understood that the trustees were not making a commitment for the village to fix the problem. She said there were a number of neighborhoods with drainage and flooding issues, and the village has to be fiscally responsible to the entire community.

Trustee Tom Renk said he believes it is the role of government to step in and take care of things that the residents cannot. Although he added that the homeowners have some responsibility for fixing the problems, he said he felt a commitment to work with them.

“A whole bunch of things have fallen through the cracks,” he said. “I think it’s our duty to follow through on this process.”

However, he added that the village could not write a blank check.

After the meeting, trustee Kevin Geary, also a Mallard Point resident, said he did not think that anything was resolved. He said that during the most recent rain, he had three inches of water in his own basement, and he did not think that dropping the height of the blockage by six inches would take care of the problem.

“Right now, we’ve got residents whose basements are flooding,” he said. “It’s a life-safety issue.”

There are approximately 250 residences in Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks combined.

Flooding still problem for Mallard Point

2/12 updated: On page 7A of the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of the Elburn Herald, Sugar Grove resident Tom Scales’s comments were misconstrued. The flooding he referred to while describing children losing their shoes while walking on the grass was on the local baseball field, not in the yard of his home.

by Susan O’Neill
More than 100 residents of the Mallard Point subdivision in Sugar Grove attended a meeting on Tuesday called by the Village Board to listen to flooding and drainage concerns. One by one, the residents located their lot on a map of the subdivision and told their specific problems.

Most said they had sump pumps that either never shut off or that run every few minutes. A number of residents said their basements flood every time it rains; others said they have yards with pools of standing water.

Tom Scales said there is so much flooding in his yard that his children lose their shoes in the grass the day after a rain.

For some, the problems have been ongoing. According to an Elburn Herald article in June 2000, resident Laurie Geary said that she and her husband had already had extensive work done to solve the drainage and flooding issues.

“Ten sump pumps later, we discovered our dream house is built on a water aquifer,” she said then.

For others, like Leo Brown, the problems are just beginning. Brown, who has lived in Mallard Point for 10 years, said his sump pump had cob webs in it for the first eight years. He said now it goes on all the time, with a substantial increase in his electric bill as well.

Problems with the subdivision date back to the mid-1990s, when Mallard Point was first built. After the first builder declared bankruptcy, two others took over before the development 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. There was also some discussion about establishing a special services area. This would have meant Mallard Point residents would have been charged an additional tax that would pay for maintenance of the property and other outstanding issues, but that did not take place, either.

According to Village President Sean Michels, the development was built with inappropriate grading, causing many of the flooding and drainage issues.

Brad Sauer, who owns the property directly to the south of the subdivision, said that Mallard Point’s drainage problems have destroyed the crops and made that land, once farmed, unusable.

“I know some people think I’m the bad guy,” he told the crowd gathered on Tuesday. “I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to fix the problem, so I’m with you. I want this problem fixed, too.”

Karen Romero, who lives on Brookhaven Circle, attended the Jan. 6 Village Board meeting to see if she could get any assistance from the village. Romero told the board her basement had flooded three times since the beginning of 2008.

She said when she initially approached village staff in October 2008, she was told the problem was a leak in the water line on her property, and it was her responsibility to fix it. She said it wasn’t until she had someone dig up her entire lawn that she discovered it was not where the problem was. She said she has been through three sump pumps and now the sewer line is backing up into her basement.

Romero said that so far, she has spent about $5,000 trying to fix the problem on her own. The last tradesperson she hired told her it was a drainage issue.

“I just don’t want other people to have to pay all this money like I did,” she said.

Trustee Kevin Geary, who owns a home in Mallard Point with his wife Laurie, said he did not feel the village had been responsive to Romero’s concerns and those of other Mallard Point residents. He and village presidential candidate Perry Clark held a meeting with residents several weeks ago.

“I’ve been getting phone calls from everyone,” Geary said. “My opinion is that the village did not want to be bothered with it.”

Village attorney Steve Andersson said the Village Board has asked him to research what the rights and responsibilities are for both the village and the landowners, including the Mallard Point residents and Sauer.

Although several residents said they wanted a timeframe in which the village thought the problem could be solved, village officials were reluctant to set one.

Trustee Mary Heineman said she has spent 12 hours so far talking to people and reading through previous meeting minutes to get a better sense of the problems. She asked the residents for their patience while the village takes steps to come up with both short-term and long-term solutions.

“While I know you all want a timeline, we don’t know the extent of the problem, so we can’t determine how long it will take,” trustee Melisa Taylor added.

Andersson said he will review the annexation agreement, and work with the engineers to determine the problems, as well as attempting to determine what is village-owned and what is not.

The Village Board is expected to approve a contract with the engineering firm Trotter & Associates at its next board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 3, to evaluate the problems.