Engineer: Drainage on west side not city’s problem

High-water problems near the westside Columbus Crossing retail development are not a city issue, but a neighbor-to-neighbor one, the city engineer says.

Farmer Ben Daily said in February that the water runoff was pushing the underground water table beyond its limits, which is flooding his farmland and making it difficult to produce crops.

The area also had an apartment complex, Flats of Columbus, withdraw its proposal to develop in Columbus Crossing along Merchants Mile last June due to concerns over the drainage system on the land.

The city’s stormwater ordinance, drafted in 2008, is applicable to major subdivisions and site-plan reviews not part of major subdivisions with current stormwater plan approval.

Columbus Crossing was built in 2001-02 when the city had a different stormwater ordinance. City engineer Beth Fizel said that limits what the city can do to address the problems the area currently faces.

“The city should not be involved in those disputes,” Fizel said. “Whatever problems that are occurring should be (resolved) between the property owners.”

Daily, who farms next to Columbus Crossing, said high-water problems were caused by inadequate drainage and retention ponds.

Flats of Columbus, a 130-unit apartment complex, dropped its proposal after the developer was unable to provide water drainage plans due to its location in the 100-year floodway fringe near Menards.

“We’ve lost a development because of this problem,” city plan commission member Frank Jerome said. “That means we lost tax income because of that property that we’re not going to get.”

In February, the commission approved Chevrolet of Columbus’ plan to build a new dealership in front of Sam’s Club just south of State Road 46. The dealership would be built on a 4-acre parcel of land owned by Menards, just south and west of a cul-de-sac at the west end of Merchants Mile. Menards Inc. owns more than 20 acres in the Columbus Crossing area along Merchants Mile, with several empty lots.

At the time of approval, commission member Dave Fisher intimated that the dealership might be the last approval in that area for a while.

Meanwhile, the questions continue.

“We don’t know if there is actually an issue, and we don’t know what that issue is,” Fizel said. “We don’t know that the Menards development has had any impact on any of it.”