Ferrysburg man believes city failed to properly address drainage issues

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OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. -- Ferrysburg resident Rich Karnes and his wife moved into their dream home on Spring Lake in 2011. However, he said there’s one problem that's persisted since then.

Every time it rains as heavy as it did Thursday, their front yard floods all the way into their garage.

“All the rain water, drainage water... it’s all coming to my yard,” Karnes said.

He explained, “It’s been as far as five or six inches deep."

Karnes blames the city of Ferrysburg for the two leaching catch basins it installed in the street in front of his home back in 2004. Instead of seeping back into the soil, water caught in the basins has overflowed on 170th Avenue.

“We’re surrounded by water. So why would you put a leach basin in the ground where there’s already a high water table?” Karnes asked rhetorically.

According to the city manager, the basins went in when the city resurfaced the street. Karnes said he met with city manager Craig Bessinger and the engineering firm that did the work back in 2013 and said they just pointed the finger at each other.

At the time, Karnes said he questioned why the city installed "leach basins here and not a drainage structure."

He said the engineer replied "that’s what the city wanted." Karnes said the city manager suggested the engineer is the expert. Karnes believes the city could have installed a drain that leads to the lake instead.

“I think what it came down to at the end of the meeting is… it was a money issue. They tried to do this as cheap as they possibly could," Karnes reasoned.

He said the city engineer gave him a couple of options, including installing that drain. However, Karnes would have to float the bill.

City manager Craig Bessinger told FOX 17, “Historically, there’s always been issues with flooding on these properties."

Bessinger said the engineer told him the resurfacing and leach basin installation didn't change the elevation. The city manager said the basins were installed to help with some drainage issues, but nothing like the storm event Karnes dealt with Thursday.

"If Mr. Karnes comes in with some proposals, the city would be glad to work with him but, try to eliminate this problem," Bessinger said.

"On his dime?" FOX 17 questioned.

"Well, it depends on what he comes in with," Karnes replied.

He said, “If the city did a project, and we harmed a resident, we want to try to make it right."

Karnes said, “I don’t think that I’m really responsible to pay for this. I think it’s something that they created and something that the city should take care of.”

Regardless of what the city does, Karnes said he’ll come up with a solution one way or the other.

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