A pool of water collects outside a new home at 1320 Deerview Ct. Without a proper drainage system, the city engineer said it could negatively impact the foundation of the house next door.
That’s not where the mess ends; it’s where it began.
Mayor Tim Rud said the city is committed to resolving the problem, but after a meeting Monday evening, builder Jonathan Wood said, “there’s a lot of ambiguity as to which route we’re going.”
Grading, sodding and completion of the storm water drainage system are proceeding, but Wood, of Jonathan Wood Construction Co., said the catch basin — part of the storm sewer system which directs water to the pond at the bottom of the hill is a big question mark. He wants to know who will install it and in which direction it’s supposed to run.
The city says the conflict hasn’t yet been resolved because Wood must first complete the house as the plans he submitted to the city require. But City Engineer John Powell, after examining the properties in May, said he likely wouldn’t approve the storm water drainage system if construction continues as planned.
All that’s left Wood in a quandary.
Neither Wood nor the neighboring homeowners, Brandon and Mandie Beyl, feel the city shares their urgency in resolving the conflict.
“This has been the worst experience of my career,” said Wood, who has built over 300 homes.
Added Brandon Beyl: “This has been my worst experience as a homeowner.”
Wood said he closed on the property last month, but the drainage issue has thrown a kink in the process. The home buyers are living in the house with a temporary certificate of occupancy. The problem, Wood said, is that without a permanent CO, the city could order the residents to move out until a permanent CO is issued. It also means that the buyers’ mortgage company is withholding a portion of the sale price that should have gone to Wood and his company.
“The reason it’s been taking so long because obligations haven’t been met, and it’s still unclear if it’s a city matter,” said City Administrator Joel Erickson. “It’s a private property issue.”
Wood and Beyl say they expect more of the city in remedying the issue.
A drainage issue
Jonathan Wood Construction Co. purchased the Deerview Court property in fall 2018 with the purpose of building a spec house. The city approved the building survey, reviewed the plan and issued the permit.
All inspections were approved and everything looked good until the Beyls noticed water from melting snow pouring into their yard. In February and March, Brandon Beyl began contacting the city and its inspector, Chris Chandler, about the issue. Staff eventually asked engineer Powell and his firm to inspect the property.
“Based on the current house configurations and site conditions, it is our opinion that if the rear yard grading shown on the approved grading plan is followed for these two lots, the runoff from 1320 will have a negative impact on the house foundation/footings at 1314,” Powell wrote in his report. “Further, there is no easement immediately behind the house at 1314 to contain this drainage. For these reasons, if the rear yard grading for 1320 simply follows the grading plan, WSB would likely not be able to approve the Grading As Built for 1320.”
He went on to write, “Given the limited options, we recommend that the builder for 1320 install an area drain in the rear yard with a piped outlet to the pond slope northwest of the trail. It is my understanding that the city does not have funding to assist in defraying this cost.”
Even after Powell’s recommendation, Administrator Erickson emphasized Wood’s obligation to follow through with the approved drainage plan.
“We would prefer not to change the grading plan on individual lots,” said Erickson. “We deal with this almost on a daily basis … When [contractors] say it’s one lot, we say, ‘Look at a holistic approach and how it affects everyone else.’”
Rud said the Willow Creek division, where the Deerview homes are located, was constructed in the early 2000s. Even though the water drained to properties downhill, the city accepted the design as it was.
Wood said he then stopped the building and sodding, unwilling to risk damaging the Beyls’ property.
Going to the city
The Beyls attended the May 30 City Council meeting along with Wood to speak to the council about the Deerview drainage complications. While Brandon Beyl wanted to open the door for dialogue, Administrator Erickson absence due to a planned vacation kept that from happening.
Mayor Tim Rud, concerned about a potential lawsuit, chose to abide by the city attorney’s advice to make no comment, opting to wait until a private meeting Monday with Wood, Beyl and Erickson.
Since that meeting, it was decided Wood would move forward with an alternative plan, whether or not it matches up with the city-approved plans, and seek quotes on several catch basin options. If the city follows through with their promise, they will pay for the catch basin, said Wood.