Terry Wichman’s property extends along the east side of the creek, on the north side of Thomas Street (circled). (Map courtesy Google)

Plans now under way for Tannery Creek drain fix at edge of Allegan city, township

Ryan Lewis, Editor

Allegan Township board members Monday, May 7, started a process to extend the Trowbridge Cheshire County Drain to help prevent flooding along several Thomas Street properties along Tannery Creek.

Allegan County Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar said severe erosion was taking place along the existing drain in the last couple months. Because that stretch of the waterway was not a county drain, her office could not yet act to fix it.

“So, what we are asking the township is if you’d approve a resolution to extend the drain,” she said.

Township board members unanimously passed the resolution. The drain commission office will now schedule a board of determination that will gather information, including the possibility of seeking engineering estimates, to decide what will fix the problem. Any costs incurred by the project would then be divided between local municipalities and homeowners in a drainage district it would establish.

Asked how far the drain office’s oversight would be extended, Medemar said, “That will be up to the board of determination. Possibly it will be extended all the way to the Kalamazoo River.”

The board will meet at a public hearing and hear any concerns of those included in the district.

Township supervisor Steve Schulz said the problem was serious.

“I know (Tannery Creek) gets tight right there at Thomas Street,” he said. “I was rather shocked to see a whole chunk of ground had dropped down into the drain.”

Terry Wichman and Sharon Benson live at 346 Thomas St. and said the problem has worsened in the last seven years. Wichman said he had lived there since 1990.

“It’s become progressively worse since they redid Thomas Street in 2005, when they widened it and changed the drains,” he said.

Concerned about the assessments sure to follow from the drain commission’s work on the waterway, he said he’d rather see two other solutions pursued first.

He said water drained too quickly from nearby First Baptist Church’s retention pond, and the culvert the City of Allegan put in beneath Thomas Street should be revisited.

“We’re already paying for all the work due to the erosion that’s already been going on,” he said. “We’ve lost 17 trees. The erosion area is bigger than this room (the township hall’s main space). It’s 6 feet deep in some places.”

Schulz encouraged Wichman and others at the meeting to give the drain project a chance.

“I know you’ve put a ton of time in and money, but in relation to it becoming a county drain, the costs would be shared by an entire drainage district. You’d get an assessment, but you wouldn’t be spending as much on your own. In the long run, it’s for the good of everyone.

“Personally, I think it’ll be good. Everybody’s sharing the cost; it’s more practical. We’re talking hundreds of parcels of property having to pay in.”

Wichman said he’d hate to see everyone get billed if his solutions would solve the problem preemptively.

“That’s what the (church’s) retaining pond was for. If they could just keep the water for seven to 10 days, and let it drain slowly,” he said.

Expected properties in a drainage district would include those in Allegan, Cheshire, Trowbridge and Valley townships along with the City of Allegan. Those municipalities plus the county itself would also likely pay a portion of the costs of any assessments for projects to improve the drain.


Noise, blight continue

The township is stepping up its effort to end an incidence of unprecedented noise complaints and blight issues at a rented residence on 36th Street between 122nd Avenue and Dumont Road.

The renters have revved loud engines of trucks and motorcycles at all hours of the day, fired guns and kept vehicles parked in the front yard.

Schulz agreed the rental property had been a problem for some time, at least two years. At Monday’s meeting, he said he had issued a total of five citations for noise and blight, none of which had been paid by Indiana property owner Michael Gard.

Schulz said the township attorney had said it was permissible at this time to begin writing citations for the current renters.

“I’ve been (working for the township in my position for) 18 years and I haven’t seen anything near like this,” Schulz said. “I will get those (citations) written tomorrow.”

Neighbor Chris Willis was at the April township board meeting to say the noise, blight and threats of violence had been a nightmare for him and his wife since October 2016. He and another neighbor have said they believed they had been shot at multiple times.

By the time the sheriff department responds—if at all—Willis said the culprits have stopped and deputies have told him they were unable to do anything.

“We’re here tonight to check on what’s being done,” Willis said Monday, noting he had sent several more texts and videos regarding noise complaints to Schulz. “They moved from the front yard to the backyard, but now back to the front again.”

He said every time the renters saw Willis, they “go over the top,” driving donuts in their truck in the front yard.

Schulz said, “I certainly hope that we can solve this thing. I appreciate you sending those texts. Our attorney says those are fine (to justify the citations).”

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.


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