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Published: Wednesday, 11/13/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

DRAINAGE DITCHES

Remedial work to lessen call for flood insurance

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Peterson Ditch current effective flood zone map. Peterson Ditch current effective flood zone map.
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Flood-hazard designations soon will be removed from several hundred properties in two parts of Toledo, relieving their owners of mandatory flood-insurance coverage.

Williams Ditch current effective flood zone map. Williams Ditch current effective flood zone map.
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Scott Sibley, administrator of the city’s division of engineering services, said removal of the 100-year-flood zone on 243 properties by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is the result of $5 million in improvements that Toledo’s drainage utility made to Peterson Ditch and Williams Ditch in recent years.

Two other areas are also likely to be rezoned on federal flood maps, but are much larger and consequently have been submitted to a FEMA consultant for further review, a process Mr. Sibley said could take up to three years to complete.

The flood-zone changes along Peterson and Williams ditches, however, will take effect on Dec. 13.

Involved are 182 properties, mostly residential, along Peterson, which runs north of and roughly parallel to Central Avenue between Middlesex Drive and Northwood Avenue, and 61 parcels of mixed use along Williams, most of them near Nebraska and Westwood avenues, that federal officials no longer consider at risk to be flooded by storms of a severity that occurs, on average, once a century.

In a $3.9 million project completed last year, the city redirected Peterson Ditch to a pipe that runs beneath Ilger Road, then follows part of the abandoned Toledo Terminal Railroad right-of-way parallel to Douglas Road before discharging into a large storm sewer near I-475 that feeds into the Ottawa River.

For Williams, the city spent $1.1 million to replace a pipe partially with an open ditch, which discharges into a drain under Midway Plaisance and Parkside Boulevard before also feeding into the Ottawa near Ottawa Park.

As a result of those improvements and $7.8 million in improvements along the Shantee Creek system in North Toledo, city officials asked FEMA to remap nearby flood-hazard areas, Mr. Sibley said.

While that remapping brought mostly good news for landowners, the area around Williams Ditch includes six properties that are to be added to the 100-year hazard area.

Aerial maps indicate most of that property is commercial or industrial, although one home may be affected.

Mr. Sibley said that change is a product of more precise mapping and computer-modeling technology that provides better data about land elevations.

FEMA also remapped six other areas along Toledo-maintained ditches, including property along Heldman Ditch in Springfield Township, he said.

Heldman crosses the city line near I-475 and Hill Avenue.

The remapping has tentatively taken 802 properties out of the 100-year hazard but also added 112 others to that zone, including some of the Springfield Township land, Mr. Sibley said.

Those changes are subject to the FEMA consultant review.

Letters are being sent to property owners affected by the map changes, Mr. Sibley said.

Mr. Sibley said typical residential flood policies cost between $800 and $1,000 a year, with price variation based on property value and risk severity.

“You can still carry flood insurance even though you’re not in the flood plain,” he said.

He said city officials don’t recommend property owners along Peterson and Williams ditches cancel their policies after Dec. 13, but he said premiums should be lower for those who keep their insurance.

Since 2001, when the drainage utility was created, Toledo has spent $27 million on capital improvements to its ditches and drains, including state and federal grants.

The Williams project was 49 percent funded by the Ohio Public Works Commission, while the Peterson project got $1.5 million in federal stimulus funds.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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