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An unsanctioned storm drain that starts at the small plaza housing the Orchard Park Runner's Roost, drains the properties along two blocks of North Buffalo Street and empties into a drainage ditch at the Jubilee plaza is flooding an apartment complex and maddening owner Ronald Fierle.

"I realize this is not a village problem," he told Village Board Monday, "but I'd really like some help to get this fixed -- amicably -- and would like any guidance you can give me."

Fierle owns a 12-unit apartment complex just north of plaza. He's always had some problems whenever it rained heavily, but the issue is worsening as the old storm pipe deteriorates.

"I have three sump pumps running full blast whenever there's a heavy rain or thaw and I think I'm just recirculating the water," he said.

Dye tests show that the storm drain starts at the plaza, picks up his apartments, a gas station next to him, the plaza with the bagel shop a block away, and exits into a drainage pond in the town, where the supermarket plaza is located.

The line appears on survey maps -- his lawyer warned him of it when he closed on the property -- but it is not an "official" storm sewer.

North Buffalo is a state road, and it never had a storm sewer installed, Public Works Superintendent Paul Barker said.

The drainage system is not in the right of way but was built by whoever developed the commercial properties there sometime in the 1930s or 1940s.

"He's not exactly alone," said Barker. "We have drainage problems like that on Quaker Road, North Buffalo and Sunset Drive."

The village has a storm sewer on Sunset Drive, but it is up to homeowners who want better drainage of their yards or basements to pay for a tap-in.

"The state is rebuilding North Buffalo and Quaker Road (in the area of the Four Corners) but not soon enough," Mayor Patricia A. Dickman said. "In fact, we had to relocate the Quaker Road storm sewer to the other side of the street to afford drainage for all the properties. They'll still have to pay to get connected."

Fierle said he's written to the state, which has no official knowledge of the storm drain, obviously installed on private property.

"The new road will be so close to my place that it won't cost much to tap in," he said. I'm going to write to the Department of Transportation and see if they'll put a 'T' in there so I can link up with them when the pipes are laid, rather than tear everything up later to tap in. That costs a lot."

The problem is not uncommon, Dickman said later. As older communities expand they usually discover a developer's makeshift solutions. Put in 50 years earlier, they are no longer sufficient, Dickman said.

Fierle's neighboring plaza may get a new tenant soon. Pudgie's bakery and restaurant plans to move across the street from its current location into a vacant part of the Runner's Roost plaza. The board voted to send Pudgie's special-use application to the Planning Board for action next Tuesday, and, if it is recommended, to hold a hearing on a special-use permit at the next Village Board meeting meeting Oct. 11.

The eatery will use existing sanitary sewers. No additional rainwater run-off will cause more problems for Fierle. The plaza parking lot and downspouts won't be increased.

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