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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2004

Swanton: Safety concerns spark talk of rules on retention ponds

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLDE STAFF WRITER

SWANTON - Village officials here are discussing the possibility of adopting standards for retention ponds in subdivisions, in part because of concerns about the safety of children who might wander into standing water in the ponds.

Swanton has ordinances that govern storm water issues, but the village doesn't have specific subdivision regulations related to retention ponds, said Jon Gochenour, village administrator.

There are at least three retention ponds in residential areas in Swanton, and a couple located on commercial property, Mr. Gochenour said. Before the ponds are constructed, an engineer for the village reviews the designs, making sure that they conform to the necessary storm-water management standards, he said.

Some council members have commented that the village should consider fencing regulations for safety reasons, he said. New regulations also could address the aesthetics of the ponds. "Maybe there could be landscaping to make them look better," he said.

Council could amend subdivision regulations to include general requirements for retention ponds, such as rules dealing with landscaping and fencing. The village might want to stipulate that the ponds must be lined with rocks to stabilize them, Mr. Gochenour said.

During council's meeting last week, Councilman David Pilliod said that he would like to see fences required around the ponds to keep children out of the water. The ponds, he said, can be a danger to youngsters.

Some residents have raised safety concerns about the new storm water retention pond at the Ashberry Farms subdivision near Swanton High School. In addition to the safety concerns, some have said that the pond is an unattractive hole in the ground.

Richard Perkins, developer/owner of the subdivision, said that the pond isn't finished yet. When the project is completed, the pond will be an attractive area, he said. The pond is along Ashberry Way, near Dodge

Street.

Final grading of the subdivision and retention pond will be done in the next 30 to 40 days, said Mr. Perkins, adding that he has contracted to have the pond graded so it can be seeded with grass. "It will take on a whole different appearance," he said, pointing out that the pond has been designed so that "99 percent of the time" it will be dry. On the rare occasion when there is flash flooding, the pond could have water in it for a short time, he said.

He said he doesn't think a fence would be needed around the pond. Some council members have questioned whether a fence could be required since the pond is built, but Mr. Gochenour said that since the village hasn't formally accepted the subdivision's infrastructure, including streets, the pond could be subject to new regulations if council adopts them.

Steve Brown, Fulton County regional planning director, said there are no uniform standards in the county for retention ponds for public storm water management "A lot of communities ... go by standards set up by the engineer involved, or they might go by the standards of the developer," he said.

Some municipalities require fencing for swimming pools, but he said he was not aware of communities that have fencing requirements for retention ponds. In Wauseon, fences are not required around retention ponds, but the city recommends that the areas be fenced off, said Tom Hall, code administrator.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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