Post-storm issues still a hot topic in township

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:15

Andover — “Why won’t the town address the flooding problem we’re having?” asked Linda Leenstra of the township committee at their meeting on Monday, Nov. 14. Leenstra, who lives on Limecrest Road, requested each committee member to “contemplate what has happened to my family.” On Sept. 8 the foundation of the Leenstra's house caved in due to pressure caused by flooding. Leenstra, her husband, and their two children are temporarily housed in separate locations. “We do not want to go to court, we’ve been suffering severe flooding the last 15 years,” said Leenstra. Leenstra read from a written statement about how her family eagerly moved into their home in the spring of 1990 when the home was three years old, planting a rose in the front. Leenstra said her daughter would stop during various stages of her youth to smell the rose. “On September 8, its 20th year, our rose was sucked down into its tomb,” Leenstra said. Leenstra sought to speak to township engineer, Joe Golden. Leenstra said drainage and runoff issues have plagued her property for years. One of the biggest problems, according to Leenstra, is the drainage pipe in her front yard is not big enough to handle the flow of water coming from neighboring properties. Leenstra characterized the runoff coming from neighboring properties as “illegal.” Municipal Attorney Fred Semrau cautioned Leenstra about classifying the runoff in that manner. Leenstra said the flooding began in 1994, after the construction of the Victoria Pines section of town. Leenstra’s family has received $27,800 from FEMA after their foundation collapsed and was advised by professionals they consulted with to move the home’s foundation a foot above the highest point of the road. She said the move would cost about $100,000. Christine Gallagher, Leenstra’s neighbor, spoke in support of the family. “There’s been no decision or conclusion drawn,” said Semrau at the meeting. He said the committee has been meeting with Golden and is working together with the county to solve the problem. “We’re trying to do whatever has been asked,” said Semrau, referring to requests from the county for information about the property. Leenstra criticized the township for their handling of her situation. The township said are sorting through the facts, attempting to determine where the responsibility lies; with the township, the county, or with Leenstra. According to township officials they are still contending with other residents' cases after the recent tropical storms. “We feel badly this has happened to you,” Mayor Phil Boyce told Leenstra. “This is the first time someone has iterated this,” Leenstra replied. “As mayor of this town, I will say, we feel badly for you,” Boyce repeated. In other business “The snowstorm on October 29th was a very unusual event,” said Andover Mayor Phil Boyce. He thanked residents for their cooperation in postponing Halloween festivities until Friday, Nov. 4. Police Chief Gil Taglialatela said 710 calls came into the dispatch center the first 24 hours of the storm, and a third dispatcher was added to help with the call volume. Councilman Bob Smith inquired about a backup generator system for the municipal building, which was without power, and Boyce confirmed the DPW is looking to acquire one. Troop 85 Scout Marshall Chudley presented his Eagle Scout project at the council meeting. The project involves constructing 40 bat houses on township land. The bat population has dwindled, with many bats succumbing to White Nose Syndrome since 2009. With the fatal fungal condition killing bats, mosquito growth has exploded. Chudley estimated his project will take 14 days and 100 bats will eventually live in each home. The township DPW will help erect the bat houses 10 feet off the ground. Boyce said the houses will divert bats from residents’ homes.