Michigan Property Owners Sue After Boardman River Flooding

May 22, 2013

Some property owners hit by flooding last year during a dam removal project in Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula have sued, saying property values along the Boardman River have dropped.

The lawsuit filed Friday names the Boardman River Dams Settlement Agreement Implementation Team and others as defendants. Chuck Lombardo, a spokesman for the team, said “the matter has been referred to the attorneys and insurance carriers of the parties involved.”

One of the plaintiffs, David Hoyt, said he and his wife, Pam, continue to struggle with mold problems at their residence, which they contend is now at greater risk of flooding.

“This was our dream house,” David Hoyt told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “We always wanted to live on the river … but when we get those weather conditions with lots of rain, it’s really, really scary.”

The Oct. 6 flooding happened over several hours during what was supposed to be the slow draining of the Brown Bridge Dam in Grand Traverse County’s East Bay Township. Authorities blamed the failure of a construction device, called a dewatering structure, that was supposed to allow water to slowly drain.

The cause of the breach is under investigation. The dam removal project is part of a broader effort to return the Boardman River to a more natural state. The breach swelled the river below the dam, damaging 66 properties and threatening bridges.

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs also includes property owners Phil and Barbara Reneaud, Shelley Wesley, Edna Wilder, and the Boardman Plains Homeowners Association.

Regardless of the October flood, some area residents disagree about whether the removal of the dam has left riverfront homeowners more susceptible to flooding. John Wyrwas, who has property along the river, said flooding this spring hasn’t been more extreme than in the past.

“What we are having now is just normal,” he said.

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