Belleville

Orchards residents seek nearly $900K from Belleville over flooding problems

A photo from a drainage study at The Orchards in Belleville shows rainwater filling a swale behind homes.
A photo from a drainage study at The Orchards in Belleville shows rainwater filling a swale behind homes.

Residents of The Orchards subdivision on the east side of Belleville are seeking nearly $900,000 in damages in a lawsuit alleging the city did not solve flooding problems in their neighborhood as promised.

Mayor Mark Eckert said he could not comment on the pending litigation. City Attorney Garrett Hoerner could not be reached for comment.

The city has asked for an extension until June 18 to reply to the suit filed in April by The Orchards Homeowners Association, which is represented by attorney B. Jay Dowling of Fairview Heights. The issue has been unresolved for 10 years and that’s one of the reasons why the suit was filed, Dowling said.

The lawsuit alleges two counts of breach of contract and asks for $897,162.75 in damages, which is the estimated cost of making modifications to an unnamed tributary of nearby Loop Creek. The suit also asks for an order directing the city to complete the flood-control work.

The city and The Orchards in 2005 entered into an agreement calling for the city to make improvements along the unnamed tributary of Loop Creek, according to the suit. In exchange, the homeowners group would then maintain the repaired area.

The improvements include construction of culvert crossings for Fairway Drive and Jack Nicklaus Drive, grading to lower the creek bottom and construction of a concrete structure to divert water from the creek, the suit states.

The city began construction on a portion of the modifications in 2013 and recently conducted a drainage study, according to the subdivision’s complaint.

In August 2013, the City Council approved spending $84,942 for a drainage study in the upscale subdivision.

Sediment and debris restricted the storm sewer and culverts in the development, according to the study by Gonzalez Companies LLC and Hanson Professional Services Inc.

This report recommends about $2 million worth of improvements in the area.

Two years ago, about 50 residents of the subdivision located off Green Mount Road met with two engineers hired by the city to study why the area floods during heavy rains.

One resident described how water came through the basement window of the home during heavy rains in April 2013 and another resident on Fairway Drive said the same thing happened to her during a storm in April 2012.

Contact reporter Mike Koziatek at mkoziatek@bnd.com or 618-239-2502. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKoziatekBND.

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