Letter: Town of Grand Lake has role to play in flooding issues
As the owners of a small house at the top of Woodpecker Hill in Grand Lake, we are watching the development plans at the Grand Lake Lodge (adjacent to our property) with interest and concern. Several neighbors have experienced flooding and related property damage, perhaps triggered by sewer repairs done on the knoll owned by the lodge. Coinciding with that, a steady stream of water flows downhill since that work was done, causing damage to Mountain Avenue in several places, and Woodpecker Hill has also begun to slide in places.
After a discussion with the town’s attorney, I understand the town’s position is that if anyone has issue with any of that, they are free to commence private legal action against the lodge, for the town is not involved, nor are they responsible.
The town’s municipal code and land use regulations (as well as a corresponding state statute) essentially provide that if you engage in construction or development, and that activity creates or worsens a drainage problem for adjoining landowners, you have to fix it. That makes sense.
Here, the town’s property (Mountain Avenue) has been damaged, and frankly, that’s becoming a safety issue. Furthermore, Woodpecker Hill appears saturated and has begun to slide in areas, and that is also a safety issue potentially affecting residents and their property. I’m not an engineer or hydrologist, but my understanding is that once hillsides reach the saturation “tipping point,” large-scale slides can occur quickly. Ensuring the safety of residents is surely one of the primary responsibilities of local government. Maybe it’s time for the town to start enforcing its own rules.
To be clear, I fully agree that folks have the right to buy property and develop it — provided that they follow the rules and don’t cause damage to adjoining or “downstream” property or create safety issues. Formal construction hasn’t even begun and there already seem to be a number of problems. Perhaps the hydrology on the knoll is much more complex than anyone knew. What problems will surface when formal, large-scale construction begins?
I would respectfully suggest the town require whatever testing may be necessary to ensure that the health and safety of town residents and their property is protected before further development occurs. That would seem to be in the best interest of the town, its residents, and the lodge.
— Jim Findlater, Fort Collins
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