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Borough threatened with lawsuit due to K-Beach Flood

Posted: July 10, 2014 - 6:43pm
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Water encroaches on a horse barn Wedneday July 2, 2014 on Buoy Avenue near the Kalifonsky Meadow Subdivision in Kenai, Alaska. Several homes in the neighborhood have been struggling with groundwater flooding issues since October 2013. ,Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Water encroaches on a horse barn Wedneday July 2, 2014 on Buoy Avenue near the Kalifonsky Meadow Subdivision in Kenai, Alaska. Several homes in the neighborhood have been struggling with groundwater flooding issues since October 2013.
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Water encroaches on a horse barn Wedneday July 2, 2014 on Buoy Avenue near the Kalifonsky Meadow Subdivision in Kenai, Alaska. Several homes in the neighborhood have been struggling with groundwater flooding issues since October 2013. ,Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Water encroaches on a horse barn Wedneday July 2, 2014 on Buoy Avenue near the Kalifonsky Meadow Subdivision in Kenai, Alaska. Several homes in the neighborhood have been struggling with groundwater flooding issues since October 2013.

An Anchorage-based attorney sent a letter dated June 27 on behalf of his Kalifornsky Beach Road area client threatening a lawsuit if the Kenai Peninsula Borough doesn’t take action to mitigate floodwaters.

In the letter, attorney Mario Bird of the Ross and Miner law firm, hired by David Yragui, requested the borough ditch Buoy Street or hold a meeting with his office and affected landowners to discuss potential solutions within 15 days.

Within 30 days, Bird requested the borough produce a long-term drainage plan to be reviewed by Yragui’s hydrologist, the borough hydrologist, a third-party hydrologist and a drainage engineer.

“There needs to be production and execution of a long-term drainage plan,” Bird said. “The fact that it hasn’t happened even though the borough apparently has been looking at this for quite some time, that’s a cause of concern.”

In a Thursday afternoon interview with the Clarion, Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said the borough was finalizing a response to be sent later Thursday or Friday.

He said the letter from Bird shows a lack of understanding of what the authorities and responsibilities are for second-class boroughs.

“The borough doesn’t have the authority and it would be irresponsible to do a drainage plan in the time frame that they’ve asked us to do it,” he said.

More information needs to be gathered over a long period of time to properly do a drainage plan, he said.

“That’s impossible and it’s a ridiculous request. It cannot be done,” Navarre said about the request to produce a long-term drainage plan in 30 days.

Navarre said the borough attorney advised him not to send a copy of the borough’s response to the Clarion.

Bird said based on Alaska’s constitution and borough code, the government is obligated to make a plan and take action. If that happens, he said he doesn’t see the need for his firm’s involvement.

“We’d much rather find some sort of solution that is amenable to not only our client but to the borough to the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources,” Bird said.

Navarre said the borough has done drainage improvements to protect road infrastructure. The borough is working with a resident to acquire an easement or some of the property on the corner of Karluk Avenue to use if water can be moved along the road to pump it into Cook Inlet.

The money the borough received from the federal government is to repair damaged roads and to do some mitigation to protect infrastructure, such as installing additional culverts, Navarre said.

“It’s not just a pile of money that we can use anyway we want,” he said.

Bird said according to borough code, the local government is supposed to provide ditching and drainage for the roads.

According to an email from Bird to the Clarion, when Yragui, who lives on Eastway Road, had a section Buoy Street built about 10 years ago, he expected it to be designed in compliance with borough standards.

When Buoy Street was constructed, Bird said, his understanding is that it didn’t seem apparent that ditching was necessary. But it has become apparent in the past couple years that some sort of ditching should have been included in the design.

“It’s a question of fact as to whether or not that road ever met with the borough’s specifications and we would argue that it never did,” Bird said. “But now it’s obvious with the washouts that have happened that something needs to be done.”

Navarre said the section of Buoy Street that Yragui had built was built to borough road standards, but wasn’t designed to drain. The ditches were designed to hold water and dissipate it down, which is similar to many roads in the borough, he said.

The borough has shot the elevation of Buoy Street to see if there is a way to move water.

“The reality is ... 0.02 is what the grade is from the end furthest to the east, I think to the west where it goes down to K-Beach road … which is about a tenth of what you need in terms of a grade to get water flowing.” Navarre said. “What is means, basically, is it’s a big, flat area.”

He said the borough wants to improve the ditching on Buoy Street not to drain the wetlands, but to make the ditches dissipate the water downward more efficiently.

Bird said Yragui had invested time and money to save his property and help his neighbors as well.

According to the letter, 10 years ago Yragui bought land south of K-Beach road and built a homestead, ranch, airstrip and airpark. He also divided 300 acres into a residential subdivision.

Navarre said when Yragui developed some of the property, the subdivision plat said, “This area is subject to inundation.”

“A good portion of it is clearly within wetlands and mapped wetlands,” Navarre said.

The letter states that because the borough refuses to ditch Buoy Street, Yragui is losing money on potential sales in the Kalifonsky Meadows Subdivision as well as buyers at the adjacent airpark, which are located off of Buoy Street.

Navarre said it’s not a purpose of government to drain wetlands so a developer can sell a property.

“If a developer wants to (drain water) and can get the permits to do it, that’s more their responsibility than the borough’s responsibility,” he said.

Bird did not have an estimation of monetary damages and said he didn’t want to get a point where the firm needed to attribute value to Yragui’s properties.

“We want the government to do what it said it would do in the first place,” Bird said. “And that is keep public roads accessible to the people who have property adjacent to these public roads and to maintain those roads such that people can go back and forth on them.”

Yragui did not immediately return calls for comment from the Clarion.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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jford
3597
Points
jford 07/10/14 - 09:54 pm
2
4
Build in a floodplain, expect to get flooded.

Yragui shouldn't get any compensation, he shouldn't be allowed to drain public and private lands and wetlands just to make himself a profit.

Attempting a lawsuit against the borough is a demonstrably classic case of what a frivolous lawsuit is.

The attorney Mario Bird and the Ross and Miner law firm should be seriously fined for bringing a frivolous lawsuit forward.

The subdivision plat said, “This area is subject to inundation.”

“A good portion of it is clearly within wetlands and mapped wetlands,” ...

Imagine that. The development is within wetlands. You knowingly build in wetlands, you get no compensation when your development floods, and it's not the borough's responsibility to bail you out.

Yragui is a grifter looking for a handout.

Media Critic
87
Points
Media Critic 07/11/14 - 05:26 am
3
1
Smelling the coffee at a typical tea party

Fight zoning, fight animal control, fight watershed management, fight taxes. Then when the problems come to your street, hire a lawyer and demand that the government send in everything but the Marine Corps. Yragui sounds like the type of person we have too many of here.

Raoulduke
3055
Points
Raoulduke 07/11/14 - 08:17 am
0
3
The Smell

Less government spending.Except when it comes to a person .Who hustled in a subdivision in an area susceptible to inundation. A bit of common sense could have prevented this by "NOT BUILDING IN A FLOOD ZONE". Remember! "BUYER BEWARE". The purchaser's of these lots got "BAMBOOZLED". They should have done some homework before buying. Sorry! It is the owners problem.Not the Borough's.

kenairiverbandit
75
Points
kenairiverbandit 07/12/14 - 05:54 am
1
1
hush hush

The borough ok'd the draining of a swamp so building could commence. You won't find that in any news article because they screwed up and don't want to loose face. Regardless of who at the borough gave their blessing, many homeowners are being inconvenienced and should be taken care of on the borough's dime without dipping into the taxpayers pocketbooks. I do agree that if you purchase in the wetlands you should build a stilt house or use it strictly for airboat racing.

jford
3597
Points
jford 07/12/14 - 07:39 am
2
1
bandit says the borough ok'd 'draining a swamp'.

…he can't back up his claim, so he says they're trying to cover it up.

Right.

kenairiverbandit
75
Points
kenairiverbandit 07/12/14 - 09:37 pm
2
1
of course....

Jford

You obviously think only big government will try to cover up oopsies instead of being a grown up about it. I don't need to prove anything to you or anyone else. The information isnt hard to acquire..... beck I was able to get it. All government agencies are made up of corruption and lies to different degrees. You have to take the blinders off to see it. I wish you a speedy recovery.

Suss
4030
Points
Suss 07/12/14 - 10:56 pm
0
1
Borough gives blessings?

The only Borough permitting would be for Kenai River setbacks and then roads, and plats for subdivisions.

The Borough does not care what you build, look around!

Is a "blessing" like a secret handshake or does P & Z hand them out?

I know some people that could surely use a "blessing".

The Borough's dime is the taxpayer's pocketbook. You mean just not the individual taxpayer pocketbook.

Seriously, tell us where to look, we all are not privy to everything government does. How do we get this information?

jford
3597
Points
jford 07/12/14 - 10:46 pm
2
2
You can pretend to yourself,

that you might know what I think, ...but you'd be wrong.

What I was right about is you're unable to back up what you claim.

kenairiverbandit
75
Points
kenairiverbandit 07/13/14 - 05:55 am
2
0
ask youselves this,,,,

When the flooding started, why did the borough send in the mitigation crews in numbers? Also, why was the flooding story not newsworthy. That was some pretty major stuff that happened All Of A Sudden. We have all seen some pretty lame stuff printed to fill space but the important stuff makes it as it happens like the wage increases that Carey handed out to his buddies. Think what you want....I am really not very involved with local happenings on a first hand basis but I know this, if you push hard enough the truth will always seep out.

kenairiverbandit
75
Points
kenairiverbandit 07/13/14 - 06:04 am
2
0
yes

It is all of our taxpaying pocketbooks I was speaking of and who said there was ever a permit issued for what was done. Without paperwork nobody can be held accountable. Its all about loopholes and the good ole boy system in government. What is really sad is how many more people are following the flute of our leaders......like following the pied piper to the edge.....just something to think about if you have kids and care what their future will start out like. Enough of this sillyness, have a great day.

jford
3597
Points
jford 07/13/14 - 07:25 am
3
2
That was a failed attempt,

better luck next time.

Scuttlebutt
211
Points
Scuttlebutt 07/13/14 - 03:15 pm
3
1
Jford:

If everybody knew it was a wetland, how did he get the permits? A little palm-greasing, maybe? Whoever okayed those permits were in cahoots and culpable. Therefore, either prosecute the borough bureaucrat that issued the permit, or maybe talk to some Civil Engineers and press them for a rapid decision (ha!)???

beaverlooper
3152
Points
beaverlooper 07/14/14 - 12:05 pm
2
1
fjord

Of course every body knows what you think !!!! You post your thoughts on just about every item the paper prints.

leewaytooo
2057
Points
leewaytooo 07/15/14 - 02:14 am
1
1
if points were to be taken

if points were to be taken into consideration then 2280

is considerably more than 774...........so who posts more?

try again, you can do better.......

can we get a witness.............

leewaytooo
2057
Points
leewaytooo 07/15/14 - 02:21 am
2
1
look at the image of the

look at the image of the horse barn......they pushed in

a road on top of the wetland and built a pad..

the barn is surrounded by wetland... it is only

logical that the weather changes and on some days/weeks

the rain will flood a wetland.

the roads act like dams in the subdivisions,, creating

their own problems... people buy property in a wetland

and then want someone else to pay for their mistake.

they must vote repuke.........

jford
3597
Points
jford 07/15/14 - 10:23 am
2
0
Right wingers are always talking about personal responsibility,

..of course, they're talking about other people.

When it comes time for them to be responsible for their own actions, they call on the government or try to pass off the responsibility onto the public.

Hypocrites and grifters.

beaverlooper
3152
Points
beaverlooper 07/15/14 - 02:18 pm
2
1
Yea leewaytooo I've got more

Yea leewaytooo I've got more numbers because I've been posting a lot longer than 783,so have you 1407, but I don't post 4 times a day(like he did today and does,or more, most days).If I changed my handle and my number went back to 1 that wouldn't mean I posted on every thing the paper writes?
Isn't The point of writing comments letting people know your thoughts on the matter up for debate?

Suss
4030
Points
Suss 07/16/14 - 12:02 am
0
1
Redirection

The one person that had been pointed out for having the most potential liability, deflects his problems and has his lawyer threaten to sue.

A bluff move, a desperate last flooded ditch attempt to save the farm and save face.

I truly feel for all the folks involved. Sure there is reasonable cause to ask , "why would you build there?"

There was ample dry land, airstrip nearby, peaceful homesites.

From $50,000 small homes to several hundred thousand dollar homes with barns and hangars for their planes.

These were families with love, hope and dreams for a beautiful future.

These homes were not built by filling in an actively wet marsh land.

The hydrology of the area changed dramatically and there is no foreseeable end to the current ground flooding.

How they ditched the water away from their own property has caused rapid further flooding problems for the other down gradient property owners.

The Court in all her majesty and power is in a totally useless position to stop the flow and flooding.

Blame can be laid, engineers can be paid, but in the end nature and her forces will not be told what to do.

The adjacent gas fields are of no help. Pumping water down the wells to frack remaining pockets of gas is not going to help.

These are sad and desperate families that need our support, but how it is that we can help is the billion dollar question.

jford
3597
Points
jford 07/16/14 - 01:24 am
4
0
Yes, it was a wetlands. The plat said as much.

When a plat says 'frequently inundated', it means it's an active wetlands.

They built anyway. They don't deserve to be bailed out when they knew full well they were building in a wetlands.

They bought 'wetlands' and tried to profit by developing in a wetlands. People whose plans are bound to fail due to incompetence don't deserve to be bailed out by the public.

No bailout for people who build in wetlands.

leewaytooo
2057
Points
leewaytooo 07/16/14 - 02:12 am
2
1
"Isn't The point of writing

"Isn't The point of writing comments letting people know your thoughts on the matter up for debate?"

if you actually believed the above then why your whine?

as to fracking................ supposedly fracking is well below

the water table and that the injected water and the water

present do not mix.............lol.............right ...

lets see, you went from NO it is not a wet land to now

it is..........

what is an "actively wet land"??? would that be one

that hasn't been rained on in a while.... look at the

sat images... that whole area drains north to the river and

and south and then west to the inlet.

look again at the barn image above.... all that gravel was

brought in to create the road and the pad, do you see any

disturbance to the surrounding vegetation?

people don't get to have buyers remorse at the expense

of every other tax payer to the borough.

Raoulduke
3055
Points
Raoulduke 07/16/14 - 02:58 am
1
0
Bailout for Incompetence?

I would say. The help that should be given.Should come from the property owners "HOME OWNERS INSURANCE POLICY". If there is not an insurance policy.Then the property owners were incompetent TWICE.First,Buying wetland property.Second,If they did not purchase insurance. If these property owners do have insurance.Are they trying to get monetary compensation from both the borough,and the insurance settlement? Not one penny should be spent from tax dollars to bail out wetland private home ownership.Remember! BUYER BEWARE.

Suss
4030
Points
Suss 07/16/14 - 08:03 am
2
1
More than one subdivision

The newer subdivision, Kalifonsky Meadow Subdivision is farther inland.

The older subdivision Mariners Watch near K-Beach, has been nice and dry for over 40 years, until recently.

Mariners Watch subdivision has never been marked as wetland or as being frequently inundated.

Leewaytoo, please drive or Google View Buoy street. You may rethink your position that the barn is completely surrounded by water. The photo you reference contradicts your opinion.

No one built the barn with water surrounding it.

For those that have no idea about insurance and flood insurance, talk to your agent and find out how these policies do not provide coverage for this type of event.

beaverlooper
3152
Points
beaverlooper 07/16/14 - 05:58 pm
1
1
leewaytooo

I answered your question,I've been posting longer.If you want to know the difference between a question and whining is ,whining is what you did when you started your crybaby act about fracking.Your thoughts.

By the way whomever is in charge of this blog ,what point do the numbers serve anyway?It's pretty much the same people posting every day ,first blog I've ever seen do the number thing.

jford
3597
Points
jford 07/16/14 - 07:49 pm
2
0
All of Buoy Street east of Westway Rd is on designated wetlands.

That whole area is mapped and designated as wetlands.

The development has caused disruption to the wetlands, if anyone wants compensation they should look to bring suit against the developers.

No public money should go to bailing out incompetence.

leewaytooo
2057
Points
leewaytooo 07/17/14 - 03:45 am
2
1
please read for

please read for content.......

no where did I say the barn is completely surrounded by

water.

I said that the road and pad for the barn was created by

bringing in gravel, which I will add, creates a dam effect.

all the development is to blame... prior to the development

was there any problems with the natural flow of the

wetlands??

buyers remorse from a lack of information...plus the

oldest established homes are being effected by the

newer construction/homes/roads..

It is accumulative.........roads, pads, that create less

avenues for the water to move as it had previously,

so the water spreads out into areas that were once

dryer.

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