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Nunda Township faces potential lawsuit over easement work

CRYSTAL LAKE – A Crystal Lake resident is threatening to sue the Nunda Township Highway Department for recent easement work he believes will cause major flooding to his property.

Doug Mann, of 3007 Garden Lane, claims that Highway Commissioner Mike Lesperance started easement work this week along Running Iron Drive and Garden Lane without engineering assessments to see whether the diversion of rainwater would not result in worse flooding for the area.

The nearly completed work started after flooding issues arose from the June 26 storms when easements on the north and south side of Running Iron Drive were overwhelmed and caused damage to some property on the east side of Garden Lane.

Although Mann said that issue is important to fix, he added that Lesperance's decision to divert the flow from the easement on the north side of Running Iron Drive to the one on the south side would result in all floodwater pounding his property.

Mann asked for engineering documents to show that Lesperance planned for the project and that the changes would not result in worse flooding but was denied multiple times.

Lesperance refused to answer questions about the project Wednesday, including whether there was engineering work done and said Freedom of Information Act requests would be the only way to access any documents that might be available to the public.

"He is steamrolling this whole project through when homeowners should be involved in the process," Mann said. "If he can show that he planned this out and shows engineers' reports that say it is going to work, then I won't fight it. But you don't even have to be an engineer to go out and see it is going to be a problem."

William Hellyer, a Crystal Lake attorney representing Mann, wrote a cease-and-desist request to the department, which was ignored. Hellyer wrote in the letter that he believed a compromise could be reached and legal action avoided if the department could provide engineering studies to show what the project would accomplish.

Hellyer said it would be Mann's decision to file a restraining order or lawsuit, but was hopeful an agreement could be made without becoming adversarial.

"If I was doing work like that, I could guarantee you the municipality or township would want to see engineering work before I moved ahead," Hellyer said. "I would hope they had it properly engineered."

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