POWNAL - A regular meeting of the Pownal Select Board faced disagreements Thursday night while addressing resident concerns over drainage issues on Pratt Road.
Roger Bigelow, of 89 Pratt Road, whose home is located at the bottom of the steep hill, said he felt that water damage on his property, which resulted from a severe rain storm on May 21, was "unfair, due to the way the road is structured and the way drainage is structured."
A 4-year resident of Pratt Road, Bigelow attributed flooding on his property to the Town of Pownal's failure to redirect previously existing drainage after the road was rerouted, "sometime between fifteen and thirty years ago."
Casey Mattison. Pownal's road foreman, was on hand at the meeting to give his monthly report and said he estimates the amount of water that has ended up on Mr. Bigelow's property could be contributed only "ten percent" to runoff from the latter's upland neighbors.
Reached for comment on Friday, Anson Mason Sr., of 235 Pratt Road, conceded there is a problem but attributes it partly to previous homeowners of Bigelow's property.
"This problem has been discussed for many, many years," said Mason, who has resided on the mountain for over forty years.
"Them trying to put the water behind the house has caused problems from day one," said Mason, who owns two acres "in a triangle right at the crest," of the hill.
"The water did use to go down the road [in a ditch that ran parallel], but it doesn't anymore because previous residents didn't want it to keep washing out their driveways," said Mason.
No one can quite remember when the road was redirected, or exactly how.
Bruce Wheat, another longtime resident who has lived with his wife at 505 Pratt Road for over thirty years, said he was told in the early 1980s that if the road ever was redirected it would have been done "quite a long time before that."
The Wheats own 11.93 acres on the hill, with hundreds of acres of forest and fields above them.
"There's a lot of water coming down and it is causing erosion but I don't know what can be done about it," said Wheat, noting that water runs down hill and is to be expected.
"As far as the drainage along the road, that's up to the Town to decide what they want to do."
Chairman Stephen Kauppi, who is familiar with the situation after a visit to the location last month, suggested one possible solution would be for Bigelow to have a second swail dug, in addition to one already existing on the other side of the home, and add a larger culvert to direct water runoff into the small pond.
Regardless, "This is a private property issue," said Kauppi.
Currently there is an 80 foot culvert, 24 inches in diameter. All agreed the existing culvert is not large enough.
"My culvert can handle the natural rainfall," said Bigelow, stating what he considers runoff directed from others' property is unacceptable.
"I'm very familiar with lawn culverts and they don't usually hold up well," said Select Board member Ronald Bisson.
Should a solution be agreed on, who pays for it is the issue.
Bigelow said he has contacted two environmental lawyers and discussed the situation with a state of Vermont river engineer; he attended the meeting with Jeff Squires who has done excavating and landscape work on the property.
"If this was simply mother nature we wouldn't be talking about this right now," said Bigelow. "I'm not trying to stop the natural direction of water, I'm trying to stop the unnatural flow."
Board member Rich Ryder said he wanted to attempt to discuss the matter. "From what I'm hearing I don't think a new culvert will fix this," he said.
The board agreed to conduct a site visit at the property to gain first-hand knowledge of the issue prior to their next regularly scheduled board meeting, to be held Thursday, October 10 at 7 p.m.
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