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SOMETIMES, it just makes sense to walk away from what at first seems like a good idea.
That’s exactly what the Bartholomew County Drainage Board did recently in rejecting a proposal to rebuild the aging Cook-Layman Regulated Drain over a 4.5-mile stretch of land in Flat Rock Township.
Some elements of the proposal certainly had merits. The drain dates to 1882, according to county officials, and has deteriorated to the point that it barely drains at all over large stretches of its length. The blockage results in standing water on several acres of land, costing farmers varying amounts depending on the acreage covered.
However, the repair project carried a $410,000 price tag, most of which would have had to be paid through assessments on about 50 landowners.
Approximately 35 landowners sent letters of opposition to the drainage board, and 40 attended the climactic meeting of the board last month where the project was killed on a 4-0 vote.
A number of those landowners noted that the anticipated assessments could force some into receivership regardless of how their property might be affected.
The specter of those costs outweighed in the opponents’ minds benefits that could have included better drainage downstream, improved use of agricultural land that no longer would be plagued by standing water and higher property values.
Even one farmer who acknowledged that part of his family’s property is too wet to farm roughly a third of the time questioned whether the drainage proposal was an answer to his problems.
Regardless of the merits or drawbacks of the proposal that would have been one of the most expensive drainage repair projects on record, the board essentially reacted to the spirited opposition.
Since many of those in opposition would have been paying significant sums for the repairs, the board’s action was a good thing.
It always pays to listen to one’s constituents.
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