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HOMEOWNER WANTS TO DITCH A PROBLEM

Q I AM LITERALLY BEING drowned.

We have a natural drainage ditch running through our 52-acre property. This ditch is the Town of Lancaster's responsibility to maintain.

Through the years, we have had many problems concerning this ditch. The county has been sneaking in and digging craters to release raw sewage (at one time) and surface water from across the street. They know they are not allowed there and have been told numerous times to stay off our property unless the job is done right. The ditch has not been cleaned since 1978.

Much construction has gone on in this area since, and all surface water plus everything else from across the street is routed our way. There is a "retention pond" over there, but I think it's just for show since I've never seen it retain anything. I started calling the Lancaster highway superintendent in April to have this ditch properly cleaned because it is now filled beyond capacity. I followed up the call with a letter, but have heard nothing.

Sometime around Nov. 14, the county sneaked in again and dug a huge "devil's hole" at the mouth of the drainage ditch. I believe they're not only guilty of trespassing but have created a dangerous situation.

I have young family members and there are many young children who play in this area. After many calls and complaints, they finally trespassed again without notifying us and filled the hole with stone, apparently thinking that solves the problem, but it's only a temporary "fix" and the coming winter and rain will soon bring the problem back.

They must properly dredge the ditch to resolve this problem! I definitely need your help. Please see what you can find out.

-- H.S., Lancaster
A "AS WE HAVE previously discussed with this property owner the county Highway Department is responsible for the maintenance of the drainage system adjacent to the county highway and the culverts under their road," explains Town of Lancaster Supervisor Stanley Jay Keysa. "They will generally open up ditches to the extent of their right of way."

"Unfortunately, the town is not always notified when this work is to take place, so we are not in a position to coordinate needed cross-country cleaning.

"It is also unfortunate that our town highway superintendent has refused to have his department do any cross-country drainage work, even though the Town Board has previously authorized the purchase of equipment specifically necessary to do such work and funded manpower so as to enable such drainage maintenance.

"Based upon her earlier call, we have initiated the process of review of the project, and are awaiting an estimate from the engineers of the cost of doing the cross-country work. Once we have the estimates, the town attorney will contact her and the other owners of the land for easements, and then assign the project to a contractor. Obviously, this all takes time -- much more time than when the services were performed directly by the Highway Department.

"I have communicated all of this to her and thanked her for writing and indicating the willingness of the landowners to have the cross-country ditch cleaned again."

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