River Oaks Storm Sewers and Common Area Drainage Issues

Several times during the past year, the Common Area has filled with water following a heavy rain and has not drained until the storm sewer was manually unblocked by a crew from the City. This indicates that a blockage at the restrictor pipe in the storm sewer that lies beneath the Common Area is happening with some regularity. Some of this blockage can be caused by debris that is swept into the storm sewer lines. Over the past thirty years of River Oaks' existence, there have been a handful of times that this blockage has occured. Each of these previous times the City was called to unblock the sewer line, which they did without dispute. In the past year, however, the frequency of these blockages have increased. As the blockages increased, sinkholes began to appear along the length of the storm sewer pipe (currently four are identified) and the drains in the centers of the two bowls that make up the Common Area have subsided, creating additional drainage problems.

For the past year the homeowners association here in River Oaks has been in contact with the City of Warrenville about the storm sewer problem. We have asked them to unplug the restrictor clogs, which they have done reluctantly. They have advised that River Oaks homeowners should pay for maintenance of these storm sewer lines and pay for any clearing of blockages that may occur. The City attorney believes that it is the responsibility of the homeowners here in River Oaks to take care of the City storm sewers here. The Board of ROIA has countered that ownership of the storm sewer system was transferred from the builder and accepted by the City of Warrenville back in 1989, according to City documents. In addition, the storm sewer underneath the Common Area does not simply serve River Oaks, but is part of an extended storm sewer system that handles water from Rt. 59 and nearby shopping areas. In fact the pipes had to be increased in size from the original planning to handle the City's requirements for this extended region.

William Price, a homeowner and lawyer in River Oaks, has sent the City several letters outlining arguments that it is the City's responsibility for dealing with this problem. The City attorney has responded each time that it is River Oaks responsibility.

The question becomes what can River Oaks do. If we accept responsibilty for the maintenance of the storm sewer system in the subdivision, this could require significant increase in dues, as well as possible special assessments levied against the homeowners. This could well balloon into major costs for the homeowners here, as we would have to handle a storm sewer system problem that handles waters beyond the subdivision. We believe that there is a valid objection for having River Oaks be responsible for repairing and maintaining a significant part of the City's storm sewer system that goes beyond the drainage requirements of River Oaks. Our next course of action is to appeal directly to the elected officials at a City Council meeting. We can make our voices heard there and hope for some relief from this major expense.

We ask that you join with your fellow homeowners at the City Council hearing on Monday May 20 at 7 PM at City Hall in Warrenville. The public has a right to make comments in the public forum part of the meeting held at the start of each hearing. You can come and speak on River Oaks behalf. Or you can come and just listen and add your presence for a united effect. PLEASE COME!!!!

Information on the Storm Sewer issue in River Oaks:

Flood Plain Hearing 1984

City Council Hearing - River Oaks Drainage 1985

Transfer of Storm Sewers to City 1989

Common Area Engineering Report Summary 2005

Plat of River Oaks showing easements

Plat of River Oaks showing storm sewers

Summary of Email exchanges with City of Warrenville

ROIA Emails to City:

April 29, 2019 Email to City of Warrenville Officials:

From: Susan Price
To: Kuchler, Phil
>Cc: Mentzer, Ron ; Barry, Clare ; Hocking, Kristine ; Goodman, Leah ; Bill Price ; davidbrummel@warrenville.il.us; directors@riveroakshome.org; barbara.adams@hklaw.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Roia and the city

Dear Mr. Kuchler et al.:

It is now nearly 6 months since you responded that you were reading our communication, and more than 2 since my husband, Attorney Bill Price, sent a letter in response to the city attorney's response, explaining in great detail why the repair of municipal storm drains is the city's responsibility, whether or not they drain our commons area. We have had no communications from either the city attorney or anyone else since that Feb 26 email, which I am forwarding to all of you as a separate email.

In the meantime, the ground above the defective storm drain pipe has developed a fourth sinkhole over the course of the winter, adding to the 3 that were present last summer, although, due to slumping with the freeze-thaw cycle, none are as deep as they were by the middle of last summer. However, as long as dirt continues to wash from these areas into the cracked [we assume] pipe below them, the main drain will continue to fill with mud and keep our commons area drain from releasing stormwater as it should.

I am attaching a photo of the line of 4 sinkholes, and one taken this afternoon of the water that has accumulated in the commons area after the rain overnight. Until two years ago, we did not have issues with the commons area drain more than once or twice a decade. In the past two years, during which time we have had increasingly severe problems with our drain clogging, we have also seen erosion around the main commons area drain and, in the past year or so, the development of the sinkholes along the line of one of the storm sewers that connects to that drain. We want to know what the city plans to do to alleviate this problem as it has already become a serious, permanent danger, between the risks of injury from people tripping over or otherwise injuring themselves on the sinkholes and the hazards of having open water in what was supposed to be a dry open area.

Susan NC Price
River Oaks Improvement Association

November 10, 2018 Letter to City of Warrenville Officials:

David Brummel, Mayor
City of Warrenville
Via email davidbrummel@warrenville.il.us
RE: Storm Drain Repairs, River Oaks
Dear Mayor,

  1. This office represents the River Oaks Improvement Association. The Association requests that the City, as it has in past instances, repair the city property (storm drains) in the commons area, blockages in which are causing a pond to form in the upper retention area. (See cc of photo attached.)
  2. Please note that the drains were transferred to city ownership in 1989 (see deed of transfer cc attached).
  3. Liability for such improvements, once accepted for city ownership, resides in the city, even if the city did not build same, cf. Burford v. Village of LaGrange, 90 Ill.App.2d 210 (cc attached.).
  4. Note that the Plan Commission considered the design for the detention area and the City Engineer had input in the final design, with City maintenance of silt traps expected and intended. (Plan Commission minutes and City Council minutes attached), and that the Plat for what was then Country Ridge Subdivision (now River Oaks) included the storm drains. Plat copies can be provided, which would further document the plat recording shown as city acceptance in the Burford case, but the transfer document and city discussions should be clear evidence of transfer of storm drains to city ownership and responsibility without additional proof.
  5. The storm drains belong to the city, and should be maintained by the city to keep the detention area able to take in all storm water and drain to dry storage areas, as originally planned and built. Your assistance in having maintenance done by the city to clear the current blockage would be much appreciated.

Respectfully Submitted,
William A. Price Attorney at Law