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Bobo tile dispute begins to heat up

March 27, 2012

Assistant Highway Superintendent Shaun Roe

    In response to claims made against him by neighbor Richard Lambert, Bobo resident Larry Passwaters addressed the Adams County Commissioners on Monday regarding continuing issues with drainage in the Bobo area.
    On February 27, Lambert met with commissioners and stated that his neighbor, Passwaters, allegedly had a broken tile on his property which was creating some minor flooding on his property.
    Lambert alleged that rather than fix the tile, Passwaters chose to plug the catch basin directly behind Lambert's home in order to prevent the standing water he was experiencing.
    According to Lambert, once the catch basin was plugged, rain water had nowhere to go and now floods Lambert's property, as well as surrounding properties and area roads.
    At the February meeting, Adams County Attorney Mark Burry instructed Adams County Highway Superintendent Mark Mitchel to inspect the basin and, if the basin fell within county domain, to unplug it.
    Assistant Highway Superintendent Shaun Roe stated at Monday's meeting that they did go out and remove the cover that was plugging the basin, which was indeed within county domain.
    Passwaters told commissioners Monday that Lambert has two culverts on his property, one of which runs to a catch basin on Passwaters' property. He alleged that since his property is lower than Lambert's, all of the rainwater and sewage from Lambert's property runs down to the catch basin on Passwaters' property.
    Passwaters said the line leaving the catch basin is broken, leaving nowhere for the water to go, so it then bubbles up out of the catch basin and onto his property, along with raw sewage, according to Passwaters.
    Passwaters said he has put the plate over the catch basin twice, and the county has removed it twice, in order to prevent the water and raw sewage from flooding his property.
    Questioning the commissioners, Passwaters wanted to know whether or not the catch basin belongs to the county and, if so, asked if it is the county's responsibility to ensure the catch basin has a line leaving it in order for it drain properly.
    According to Roe, he and Mitchel found an old tile leading into the old railroad bed near the property and it is their opinion that the catch basin leads to this tile. Roe said the water is barely trickling out and he and Mitchel believe the line is full of tree roots.
    Passwaters then said the tile is broken completely and he has three big holes in his yard from where the tile has collapsed.
    "Why don't you fix that line?" asked Chairman Doug Bauman.
    Passwaters said he has nothing that goes through that line, therefore it is not his responsibility. He said the line is Lambert's and that he has offered to allow them to dig on his property to fix the line, however they have declined.
    Bauman countered that the tile is on Passwaters' property, which makes it his line and his responsibility. Bauman also noted that this is not a county located tile, which makes it a private line.
    Bauman also stated that if raw sewage is coming up out of the basin then this presents a health issue as well and that Adams County Health Department Director Terry Smith should be notified.
    Passwaters said that Smith has been told of the issue and has been out to the property "a dozen times over the last 30 years."
    When asked by Bauman what Smith has suggested, Passwaters said Smith told him "This is a neighborhood problem."
    Commissioner Ed Coil reiterated that the highway department did what the county attorney told it to do when it uncovered the catch basin. Coil also suggested that Passwaters seek legal advice.
    Bauman suggested that maybe if the neighbors could get together in a reasonable fashion a lot of these problems could be solved. If the neighbors were to all get together and run a new line down to State Road 101 there would no longer be an issue, according to Bauman.
    Passwaters said he does not feel this is their job. He also said he was concerned if they were to get together and pay to have a line run, at some point in the future the county or state could decide the new line causes a problem for Hwy 101 and crush the line.
    Bauman said the county does not go onto private property and put tiles in, and that the neighbors were going to have to come to some sort of an agreement to get the issue resolved.
    Passwaters continued to disagree with commissioners, stating it is the county's responsibility to fix the tile that leads from the catch basin.
    In the end, Bauman agreed with Coil and suggested Passwaters contact his attorney and have him get in touch with the county attorney "and do what you need to do."

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