After three years, Blue Lake Township has finally acquired the property that the Browns Pond dam is located on. Now the Browns Pond Association can begin work on repairing the dam, so the Department of Environmental Quality does not tear it down.
After three years of trying to acquire a piece of property owned by a private person, Blue Lake Township has finally become the owner of that land and can begin the necessary repairs to the deteriorating Browns Pond dam.
The dam needs repairs or the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said it would remove the the structure, which would make Browns Pond into a creek. The problem that the Browns Pond Association, as well as the Township, was facing was that the area that the dam was located on was owned by a private citizen, Buffy Whitney.
The Browns Pond Association has been trying to resolve a property dispute, which consisted of .18 acres, and purchase agreement regarding a section of land located on the dam for three years.
The township and association wanted Whitney to donate the land, but had a plan in place in case she wouldn’t agree.
According to a letter sent to the township from the current president of the Brown’s Pond Preservation Association Norm Swier, the association had assessment monies in an escrow account by the township. The association wanted to use some of that money to resolve the property ownership issues surrounding the dam. The association approved the expenditure of up to $1,000 to allow for the purchase of that property.
As a final option, the township discussed using eminent domain, which would mean that the township had the right to expropriate private property for public use, if it believed that doing so would benefit the public. If they had used eminent domain, the township would have paid Whitney what the land was worth, which according to an assessment was $647.28.
Neither eminent domain nor the money the association set aside by the association ended up being used as Whitney agreed to donate the land to the township after Blue Lake Township Zoning Administrator Walter Udell spoke with her on Aug. 31.
An inspection of the dam was done on Nov. 7, 2011 by Lucas Trumble from the Hydrologic Studies and Dam Safety Unit Water Resources Division of the DEQ. After the inspection was done, the DEQ sent a letter to township addressing the issues regarding the dam.
In a letter dated Dec. 21, 2011, the DEQ listed several recommendations for maintenance and monitoring of the dam. Specifically, the report recommends:
• As soon as possible, develop a plan to increase the spillway capacity of the dam so that it can safety pass the design flooding event without overtopping.
• By Nov. 1, 2013, repair the deteriorated concrete of the auxiliary spillway culvert and wingwalls.
• Update the Emergency Action Plan for the dam, providing a copy to the Dam Safety Program and the county emergency management coordinator by Dec. 31, 2011.
• Remove all trees and brush from the earthen embankment by Nov. 1, 2012. Establish a dense growth of grass on any bare areas. Maintain a grass cover over the entire earthen embankment with a regular mowing schedule.
• Within 5-10 years, repair the deteriorated concrete on the downstream side of the primary spillway.
• Continue to monitor the seepage at the right downstream embankment toe.
• Develop an Operation and Maintenance Plan for the dam.
A quit claim deed was signed by Whitney on Sept. 5 stating that she quit claims all of her rights, title and fee interest to Blue Lake Township. It also stated that if the dam on the property is destroyed, the property would revert back to Whitney. She also will receive a tax credit for the property.
Now that the township owns the property, the association can begin work on the dam.