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Resident to Twp.: Fix Road So Flooding Ends

Fairview Avenue homeowners seek township's help in stopping flood waters from damaging residence.

The Washington Township Committee is considering a drastic change to a portion of roadway near the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Naughright Road, where homeowners were decimated by flooding in September 2011.

The residents, Cecile Marie and John Howard, who lost most of the eastern portion of their home when flash floods struck their property, have asked that the “low spot” of Fairview Avenue be raised up to four feet, to help alleviate water flow from Stony Brook into their home.

This request isn’t new, however, according to Marie, who was present at the Washington Township Committee Work Session meeting Wednesday night with her attorney and an engineer.

Having lived in the home since 2000, Marie and Howard say their house has been flooded nine times, but the storm in September did the most damage.

Marie, , said she has requested help from the township on this issue for nearly a decade.

Marie and Howard claim they have spent nearly $1.5 million in home repairs since moving into the home. It’s location, sitting in a low spot of the roadway near a brook, has caused flooding from the waterway–and from the slope of Naughright Road–to empty onto the property.

Marie’s engineer, David Fontina, said the road would have to be re-profiled, in addition to other changes in the area, to alleviate the waterflow.

“We’re asking that the township consider moving the low-point away from the home,” Fontina said. “The homeowners would build a berm on their property as well.”

Another issue in the area is the rock debris that has clogged much of Stony Brook, according to Fontina.

Over the past few decades, boulders “the size of refrigerators,” according to Mayor Ken Short, have been displaced, clogging the waterway rather than creating a pathway for the brook. The displacement has forced the water to run onto Fairview Avenue, Fontina said, and end up in Marie and Howard’s property.

The projected cost to fix the road, however, is estimated to be upwards of $50,000, according to Short.

All for one, one for all?

The major issue, however, for members of the township committee is disseminating where to draw the line for helping a single resident.

“If we go ahead and do this,” said committeeman Jim LiaBraaten, “what will happen for residents in similar situations? If we go through with this, it could set a precedent.”

The roadway already has a four-foot drop onto the property, Short said. Adding an additional four feet in height could warrant a guardrail on the roadway.

“I’d like to hear the full cost of the project, and conditions from both engineers,” committeeman Dave Kennedy said. “We also have to be sure we’re not just pushing the issue–and water flow–downstream further onto Naughright, where flooding already occurs at the intersection with Bartley Road.”

Township engineer Leon Hall, who was not at the meeting, has come up with a few solutions, Fontina said. “(Hall) thinks this could be one of the solutions,” Fontina said. “It won’t make the property flood proof, but will alleviate many of the problems.”

The committee decided to go forward with assigning Hall to work on the project in conjunction with Fontina. Once the two have decided on the best route to take on the project, the committee will again review the situation and decide whether or not it will take next steps in repairing the roadway

Joseph Keyes April 13, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I think the township has to make every effort to ensure that our wellbeing, and that of our properties are secure. The concern that a “precedent” may be set should not prevent the township from doing the right thing. If it’s a township problem, then fix it. Establish a priority list for legitimate claims and ascertain who is responsible for what. If it’s a county or state problem then press them to fix it. A 50k dollar solution to a problem that has cost the homeowners 1.5 million in repairs for over a decade? A compromise should have been worked out to share the 50k costs between the residents and the township a long time ago. We should be able to work with our township and not have to fight it.
Domino April 13, 2012 at 08:05 PM
We need a township committee comprised of forward-thinking, energetic individuals who care about their town and have a vision for the future. What we have now is a majority of members (3) who should be in a nursing home, another one who couldn't find it if he had the address and a fifth who the other four like to discredit. Wonder why the town is going nowhere? Start at the top.
Joseph Keyes April 13, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Our township needs people who are willing to work together. It needs people willing to commit time and energy doing whatever they can to improve it. What are your visions for the future?
Jennifer Simon April 13, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Personal opinions about the individual committeemen aside, our problem is that 'status quo' is good enough for our township committee, they are not pro-active but re-active and there is very little transparency. Decisions are made behind closed doors by an all-male committee and then we are presented with decisions without open debate or discussion. And the people of this township continue to keep and put these individuals in office. WHY?
Joseph Keyes April 13, 2012 at 09:02 PM
As a political neophyte, I ran for a committee seat in 2011 and in doing such, learned a lot about this township and how it operates. Since then, I’ve engaged myself in township meetings and events. Most times, public attendance at committee meetings is negligible, and until that changes, nothing else will. We saw WT’s weaknesses during Irene and the October storm. Whoever wants a seat on that committee had better be prepared to offer solutions. I did and will continue to do so.
Angelo April 14, 2012 at 12:08 AM
@jennifer & Jhiggins: your situation is terrible and should be right at the top of township priorities. That tanker truck has been there for a long time, at considerable expense I believe.
roger freiday April 14, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Dear citizens, I agree with the ''brickbats'' on how things work in "Washed out Twp'' BUT, remember, UNLESS YOU ARE prepared to run for Township office, let us not be TOO critical of those who do volunteer their time and energy for a nebulous return. I have serious doubts about how the ''variance'' approvals happen, and the ''good 'ol boy'' network, but I think that most of the Twp Committee has good intentions, although they often get side-tracked by special interests and lack of comprehensive grasp of the complicated and covoluted ramifications of the multi-facted decisions they are faced with. Yes, I totally disagree with lots of what is now ''accepted proceedure'' but unless one is going to run for office, we need to temper criticism with reality. One way to get results is to SHOW UP at Twp meetings an N E V E R stop promoting your agenda. Long and loud, is the way to go. It is easy to be an armchair dissident, so those who are dis-satisfied, show up at Twp meetings and put it on the record ! Same as we did, when we TRIED, to kill Cucchinella school which our ''all seeing, all knowing;'' BOARD of Ed just HAD TO HAVE. Now, we know it was another HUGE WASTE of YOUR TAX MONEY !
Domino April 14, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Jim Liabraaten's comment that he doesn't want to set a "precedent" is very revealing. Yes, heaven forbid that the township committee actually sets a precedent to help its residents! This is the mindset of most of these guys. They are there for themselves and not the community. They are there to preserve the status quo. To bad for all of us. No wonder this town has barely changed in the last 30 years.
Jerry Gordon April 14, 2012 at 01:49 PM
And what solutions do you offer Domino? None, as usual, just a lot of empty rhetoric!
Jerry Gordon April 14, 2012 at 01:54 PM
La Quinn, you make a good points. If Cecil Marie spent 1 and a half million dollars on that property, one would think that she would have spent 50K to fix the water runoff. I'm willing to bet she knew before hand that house sat in a flood plain. Cecil comes off as having made a poor choices and is looking for some one else to bail her out.
Thomas Lotito April 14, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Joe, the township DOES NOT have to "make every effort to ensure your wellbeing, and that of our properties are secure". It's your responsibility. No body owes you anything.
Thomas Lotito April 14, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Jason, how much longer will you let Domino's personal attacks stand unchallenged?
GiGi Richards April 14, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Really, it is beyond time for a HUGE political change in this township. In my nearly 15 years of residency here all I have seen are the same old problems. Our committee members seem to only have their own agendas. I have attended meetings from both the BOE and the township committee and my ideas were dismissed. Since then I choose to enjoy my free time with my loved ones. I also would never waste my money and energy trying to run for any board membership because of the vile, nasty campaigns that I have witnessed. I don't think those of us who express discontent with our township should be expected to put forward ideas for a change. That is not our responsibility. That is what our elected officials are supposed to be doing. I hope the residents whose homes are/were damaged find some assistance. Most importantly I wish LV would be managed properly.
Joseph Keyes April 14, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Tom, Keeping the roads clear, potholes filled, keeping residents informed during emergencies, and pursing county and state resources to remediate problems is a big part of ensuring the wellbeing of our residents is most certainly the township’s responsibility. Why do you think we have local government?
Jennifer Simon April 15, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I would LOVE to run for committee and have great ideas. Unfortunately I am mother to two small children, starting a new job and recently dealt with an illness in the family. Couldn't devote the time I would like to the township (maybe next year!) But I would love to see another woman dedicated to the issues we've been talking about run. This town has so much potential. We need active, dedicated and progressive (and I mean this in terms of positive CHANGE) people leading this town.
Domino April 15, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Funny, Mr. Lotito seems to be able to dish it out quite well and regularly. Yet he doesn't like any comments in return. Isn't that the sign of a true bully? Waaah Waah Waah!
Thomas Lotito April 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Domino, keep in mind, I post in my own name, you don't, that makes you a coward. You lack the intestinal fortitude to put your real name on any of the personal attacks you write...... If you're going to attack people, why are you so afraid to let people know who you are? I bet you're sitting there quaking in your boots.... I'm willing to bet everyone's laughing at you., who's crying now?
Thomas Lotito April 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Domino, keep in mind, I post in my own name, you don't, that makes you a coward. You lack the intestinal fortitude to put your real name on any of the personal attacks you write...... If you're going to attack people, why are you so afraid to let people know who you are? I bet you're sitting there quaking in your boots.... I'm willing to bet everyone's laughing at you., who's crying now?
SpecialEd April 15, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I think people need to appreciate the experience we have at the Township Committee level. Not long ago at the regional high school, a very inexperienced ruling body started a construction project. The BOE member put in charge had no experience in business whatsoever, mangled the job and it dragged on for years, turning 1,000s of kids high school years into visiting a construction zone. These were precious years for these children ruined because by ONE man's incompetence. And for which taxpayers never got the fancy gym and other facilities they paid for. This person later became the first Morris County high school BOE member brought up on official state ethics charges. Before throwing rocks, one should consider the fact that we have five intelligent, ethical people there, and we should be happy for this.
Tracy Tobin April 15, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Ms. Richards Please post two ideas you presented to the Township Committee that were ignored or rejected. (A rough time frame would be helpful but not a requirement.) I am curious to see what areas they address. I've presented a lot of ideas to the Committee over 38+ years and had them rejected. You are basically saying "Let the Committee guess what I think is wrong and then I'll tell them they guessed wrong if it was not what I wanted".
Tracy Tobin April 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM
jennifer & jhiggins The Mayor received a letter from the new Director of the WTMUA that a new "booster pump station" (not sure that is the correct terminology) will be under construction shortly. I assume it is related to the same problem you both addressed in your blog. Hopefully the WTMUA is sending out letters to the affected residents to bring them up to date on the project. The Mayor has been in regular contact with the MUA, pressing for action related to your problem and the "temporary tanker".
Tracy Tobin April 15, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Jennifer You obviously have not been to Township Committee Regular Public, Work, Budget or Special meetings if you claim there is no debate or discussion over issues. These meetings are all open to the Public, the Mayor opens the meetings twice for comments and questions on any township related issues as well as opening for comment on specific ordinances. The only topics discussed "behind closed doors" are those permitted by State Law, and the Township Attorney monitors those discussions closely to ensure the discussions "stay on track." If you have facts or evidence to the contrary, take your case to the County Prosecutor.
jhiggins April 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Tracy: I wish we were kept abreast of any new improvements and/ or construction but sadly we are not here on schooleys mountain.
Angelo April 16, 2012 at 10:51 AM
@Tracy: No WTMUA meetings since November have been posted as I write this, http://www.wtmua.org/minutes/
Domino April 16, 2012 at 12:27 PM
"Quaking in my boots"? Thanks for the good laugh,Tom. As usual, it's at your expense.
Thomas Lotito April 17, 2012 at 12:43 AM
No, the expense is yours Domino, as usual you didn't answer in your own name, you stand corrected!
RON STEVENS April 17, 2012 at 11:24 PM
CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME THAT THE HOUSE HAS BEEN THERE SINCE 1735 AND NO MAJOR FLOODING{WATER TAKING DOWN A GOOD PART OF THE HOUSE}, BUT SINCE SOME BRIDGES, ROAD WORK AND TREES BEING REMOVE FROM DIFFERENT LOTS WITHOUT ANY TOWN SAY SO, THIS IS NOT PART A TOWNSHIP PROBLEM?
Jerry Gordon April 18, 2012 at 12:13 AM
You don't have to scream Ron....I'm willing to bet that house has always had flooding problems..where is Cecil Marie's home inspector's report? Let's be honest and above board here, Cecil Marie should publish her home inspection report.... only then we will know the whole story about that house and past flooding issues.
GiGi Richards April 18, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Um, no, Mr. Tobin I never expect the twp. committee or anyone else to guess what I am thinking. At this time my ideas that were presented are no longer at issue. I was with some other people at the time, it was about 7 years ago. Rehashing that serves nobody. I stand by my statement.
roger freiday April 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Whether or not there was some 'water'' or the home inspector said ''this or that'', in my 45 years of residing less than a 1/2 mile away I NEVER witnessed any REAL damage, INCLUDING the previous owner. If there was any it was minimal, AND the DEP had the home OUT of the ''flood plain''. Wash. Twp NEEDS CLEAR CUTTING rules on woodlots ! ! AND STOP ! granting ''relief'' to SPEC HOUSE BUILDERS in WATERSHEDS. (like we are stuck with here on Jones Lane, the dumping ground for ''variances'', where the Twp gets the TAXES and the residents get ''you know what''. As a private road, our TOWN puts the burden of new homes on a dirt road that does not need more traffic, we get NO snow plowing, NO pavement repair, NO grading, NO NOTHING. Yet, we also get NO INPUT as to how Twp decisions to allow more homes will cause us damage, noise, dirt, and fire /police safety issues. Let me include INCREASED RUN-OFF from this watershed, as to FLOODING downstream. Our Committee says, ''Highlands will take care of tree clearing regulations'', but our good G.O.P anti-environment GOVERNOR has gutted that agency, after all, we can't make MONEY in NJ and have green and clean can we? Write rules NOW, the Highlands is to nebulous to hope for that as relief.

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