Homeowner’s flooding claim denied by city
Grand Junction man blames poorly maintained bridge nearby
After $106,000 in repairs for flooding throughout his home and yard, a local homeowner along Leach Creek sought compensation from the city for damage he said was caused by a nearby bridge not being maintained.
The Grand Junction City Council heard Glenn McClelland’s case during a recent workshop. About a week later and after an executive session, he received a letter saying the city will not be offering him payment.
“While the Council feels for you and the damage that occurred to your property, the combination of many forces resulted in the condition you experienced,” wrote City Attorney John Shaver. “Because of that and because the City cannot protect its citizens from all hazards … it would be improper to spend public funds on payment of your claim.”
Although disappointed by this outcome, McClelland was pleased that his concern about future maintenance and preventative measures is being addressed.
“My contention is that the loss was largely due to the fact that the bridge was not cleaned out,” he said. If it had been cleaned out, the flooding would not have been near the magnitude experienced, he added.
In a report McClelland submitted to the city, an engineering study concluded that the backwater was significantly higher than anticipated because of insufficient capacity of the opening of the bridge, which carries Leach Creek beneath Seventh Street.
With no flood insurance, of the total in repairs spent out-of-pocket, about $20,000 covered the home for the up to 6 inches of water that left destruction on the first floor. The other $86,000 was landscaping. He also had a 4-foot berm built around the property to protect it, and a contractor with the city worked for two days removing trees and cleaning out the ditch passage below the bridge.
McClelland bought his home in Paradise Hills on 26½ Road in 1986, before the maps — which now show his property in the flood plain — were created. The two storms that left murky water running through his halls and debris scattered throughout the yard took place in the summer of 2011.
“We’re sorry this has happened. … This is why we need flood plain maps,” said Councilman Bennett Boeschenstein during the meeting in September.
Tim Moore, public works and planning director, said that in the future, a large part of the solution is the detention basin being constructed off 27¼ Road by the Colorado Army National Guard in partnership with local government organizations.
Shaver and a local attorney whom McClelland consulted both said that legally he had no basis for a lawsuit due to immunity protection. However, the council can award him an amount without setting a precedent, Shaver said.
McClelland was offered $5,000, an amount based on a prior history of backed up sewer pipes. He turned it down and decided to go before council.
McClelland said the legal protection does not alleviate the city from responsibility and that he came to the council because, “I do believe in this process. … It disappoints me that we’ve let the legal system dictate what we do as city government.”