Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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January 18, 2014

Attorney: County not responsible for dam repairs

State says six Miami Co. dams need maintenance, were never permitted.

PERU — Residents in a Miami County housing addition are seeking legal counsel on who is responsible to repair six deteriorating dams the state says were never permitted for construction.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said in October six dams in the Hidden Hills housing addition just north of Peru were never permitted or inspected by the state and never received pre-construction approval.

After an initial inspection, officials said, the dams were found in need of maintenance and said the owners of the dams have to pay for it.

Four of the dams have county roads running over them, which could mean the county will have to help maintain and repair the structures.

However, Pat Roberts, the attorney for the Miami County commissioners, issued an opinion on Monday stating the county isn’t responsible for any of the dams because they were never described or dedicated to the county.

“There are no county records showing the county commissioners agreement to accept ownership, regulate or maintain any dam,” Roberts wrote in the opinion.

Residents in the subdivision say they will likely seek additional legal counsel to determine who is required to maintain the dams with county roads on them.

Commissioner Larry West, who owns property on one of the dams, said when the structures were built over 20 years ago, nobody assumed responsibility for maintaining them.

“It would be my assumption, as a commissioner, when the county accepted the roads they never gave any thought to having responsibility for the dams,” he said. “I think the same goes for the property owners here.”

West said residents who own property on the dams believe their property lines don’t take in much of the dams.

“We feel innocent purchasing properties that had dams on them, because our property lines didn’t appear to take in the dams,” he said.

The state said it considers some of the dams as high hazard, claiming if they break, they could pose a serious threat to property owners downstream.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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