KENDALLVILLE — “Isn’t that swamp land?” many people have asked in the last week about the site of a proposed 70-unit housing subdivision on Sherman Street.
According to Noble County Surveyor Randy Sexton, the answer is no.
The site should be just fine for housing, especially after some local drainage improvements are made, Sexton said.
The 35.6-acre lot at Sherman Street and Waits Road, currently owned by East Noble School Corp. but in the process of being sold to developer BST Capital does have a history with being wet. It was one of the concerns of the developer Brad Griffith and one of the first things ironed out before the project was even announced publicly.
In meetings between the surveyor and Kendallville officials, an agreement was reached to make some local drain improvements that will help keep the area dry.
The primary drain for the area is the Lash Ditch, which starts in the Lisbon area, runs up near Maple Grove mobile home park and then under Waits Road, runs behind South Side Elementary, crossed under Sherman street about halfway between South Side and East Noble High School and then ultimately empties into Bixler Lake.
The 35.6 acre lot, located on the east side of Sherman Street, has a low, swampy area toward the southwest corner of the property that holds water pretty much year round. From there, water moves under Sherman Street and makes its way west to the Lash Ditch.
A main problem is that silt build up over the years has a tendency to clog a 24-inch bypass in the system, which then causes water to back up.
“What’s happened over the years is the drain from Sherman Street downstream is filled up with so much silt, the only outlet for the area is that 24-inch pipe. We work regularly to keep the inlet cleaned out,” Sexton said. “I went into negotiations with the city and the park department concerning the cleaning of that section of drain and now have a memorandum of understanding … for the cleaning of that drain by late summer or early fall next year.”
One ongoing concern is keeping silt and debris from running off into Bixler Lake and degrading the water quality. Excess silt will be removed off-site in an effort to prevent it from getting into the lake, city officials said at a previous meeting.
Beyond that, the subdivision developer will be adding new localized detention to help drain the area.
Water naturally drains southwest into the swampy pond, which is a wetland and can’t be disturbed, but the developer isn’t counting on that for localized drainage. Instead, the plans would include a detention pond for the subdivision, tentatively located north of the swamp area, that will hold runoff from streets and yards.
“They will be detaining their water upstream of that area which will meet the criteria of the Noble County Stormwater Control Ordinance,” Sexton said.
According to spot elevation data available via the public Beacon GIS system, the lot ranges in elevations from about 973 feet to about 1,009 feet above the sea level.
Low points on the property include the swampy pond area, the northwest corner of the lot and a spot in the middle at about 975 feet that could be elevated slightly when earth work begins.
The land slopes upward in the south, where there is a small hill in the southern end that slopes back down about 10 feet to Waits Road at approximately 1,000 feet.
The elevation to the east side of the property is a little higher as well as to a residential lot in the southwest. To the north property line, elevation heading toward the wooded area behind the Noble County Humane Society is above level with the proposed subdivision lot.
Although the area has a reputation for being swampy, the land itself actually sit approximately 20 feet higher than South Side Elementary, about 10 feet higher than the East Noble High School campus and around 20 feet higher than Bixler Lake.
Sexton, who is responsible for the county’s drainage, sees no major issues for the area, especially as it develops and drainage improvements are made compared to bare land.
“I don’t believe it would be a bad place at all. The soils are good, everything is good about it. Location will be nice for that area. It’s certainly not a low swampy area to build in,” Sexton said. “It was a nice site that the school had, it just didn’t work into their system. By putting houses there … it will work out great for young families.”