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Residents storm council with flooding concerns

June 21, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Residents of the south end of Waynesboro were again before the borough council on Wednesday, flooding the board with concerns about water and sewage swamping their properties during heavy and quick rainfalls.

Dick Rose, of 118 W. Fifth St., pleaded with the council to hurry its remediation of the problems with the storm water system.

"We're on pins and needles. We're going on a couple long trips, and I'm reluctant to leave because I don't know if I'm going to have a house to come back to," said Rose, who has submitted two letters to the council on the matter.

The borough has been photographed from the air and is being mapped as part of a study for consultant Dennis E. Black Engineering of Chambersburg, Pa., Borough Engineer Kevin Grubbs said.

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Rose pressed for deadlines for the study to be finished and repairs to begin.

"No, there isn't a completion date because a lot of information has to be gathered. We're looking at several months to get this information together," Grubbs said.

"I certainly didn't expect it to be 15 months until a study was done," Rose said.

Rains in June 2006 and this month left standing water in yards, flooded basements and popped the covers off manholes in the area of Maple Street, Cemetery Avenue and the southernmost portion of South Potomac Street.

Edward Geesaman, of 424 S. Potomac St., said water entered his vehicle last year, reached the seats and ruined it.

"Now, this year, I'm wading in water clear up past my knees with the lightning coming down so I can save my truck," Geesaman said.

"We'd like to live like everyone else lives without having three feet of water around our property," he said.

Other residents expressed worries about foundations collapsing and disclosing the problems when selling their houses.

"It doesn't sound like a lot of stuff is going to be taken care of in the next three to five years," said George Eckert, of 423 S. Potomac St.

Rose asked the council to consider putting a moratorium on new development until the problem is resolved. Moratoriums are typically very hard to enact under Pennsylvania law, but the council has asked its solicitor to look into the possibility, Council President Craig Newcomer said.

"For 17 straight years, everything was OK. That tells me there was a significant change in those 17 years, and I think it's the building. ... We can't cover every square inch of the blacktop up and expect the 100-year-old system to handle it," Rose said.

Land development requirements ensure that water runoff is equal to or less than pre-development rates, said Ronnie Martin, a local developer who won a primary election bid in May for a council seat.

"The rule is that you're not allowed to put any more water off the property than when it was developed," Martin said.

"I've been on South Potomac for 20 years, and I've never seen it as bad as in the past two years," said Carl Jamarik, of 493 S. Potomac St.

Grubbs said watertight manholes have been ordered. He also wants to install backflow preventers for temporary fixes.

The study is needed so that solving one person's problem doesn't send it down the system for someone else, Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

Rose asked for expediency, and Newcomer said he would meet with Grubbs weekly.

"I had raw sewage in my pool when I drained it. ... We're talking about an environmental health issue here," Rose said.

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