Devonshire homeowner seeks flooding prevention
It’s been known as the Hills of Devonshire.
The neighborhood of upscale homes in Salisbury Township is north of Lehigh Street, south of Devonshire Road and east of Keystone Road.
Wendy Carney, a resident of Devonshire, wants township officials to address stormwater flooding she says is damaging her family’s property.
Carney said the problem is caused by a storm sewer drain not handling the volume of water in recent rainstorms, resulting in sheet-water flow downhill to her home.
“The water comes off of Keystone into our backyard,” Carney said, who lives with her family in a home along Box Elder Road, which loops off of Country Club Road in the vicinity of Keystone Road and the Little Lehigh Creek. The Devonshire area is one of the westernmost parts of the township.
At the Nov. 20 board of commissioners’ meeting, Carney brought numerous photographs and a video she said depicted stormwater flooding at her residence. The images were shown on video monitors in the township municipal building meeting room.
“This was our backyard, completely flooded. The neighbor’s fence got completely knocked out into our yard,” Carney said of photos she said were taken during and after a Nov. 2 rainstorm.
One photo depicted an area of ground gouged out adjacent to an above-ground swimming pool in the Carneys’ backyard. A neighbor’s split-rail fence with chicken wire was said to have ended up in the Carneys’ yard.
Carney said a storm drain along Keystone Road overflows. She said there is one storm drain along Box Elder Road. She said dirt and debris flows across her backyard and into Little Lehigh Creek.
“All of that washes down our backyard into the creek. I don’t think you want that in the Little Lehigh,” Carney said.
“Most of the time, they’re filled up with leaves,” Commissioner Rodney Conn said of stormwater drains in the area. “Keystone always floods pretty heavy when it rains,” Conn said, who lives along Cherokee Street in western Salisbury.
“We had to get pumps to pump out our basement,” Carney said.
Carney showed photos she said depicted flooding at her property in previous years. After flooding in 2016, Carney said her family spent $4,000 for stormwater mitigation. She said an estimate for further improvements is $12,000.
“Insurance doesn’t cover surface water damage,” Carney said.
Carney said the recent flooding at her property caused anxiety for her 12-year-old daughter.
Salisbury Township Department of Public Works Director John Andreas said he visited the Carney property the day after the storm.
Commissioner Joanne Ackerman asked Andreas for his recommendation.
“I think a swale would definitely improve the situation,” Andreas said. He also suggested placement of a three-foot berm (a raised area of ground) with plantings.
Township Board of Commissioners President Robert Martucci Jr. asked Salisbury Township Solicitor John W. Ashley about the legality of an easement.
“For us to do anything, we’d have to get permission of the property owner,” Ashley said.
Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Fire Chief Joshua G. Wells, who attended the Nov. 20 commissioners’ meeting, said, “We’ve had unprecedented rain. We’ve had so many fire calls.”
“We’re getting water in our basement that we never had before,” Conn said. “We have a higher water table, unprecedented rain and the reality is that we can’t handle it.”
“I know we’re not going to resolve this tonight,” Commissioner James Seagreaves said, then turning to Andreas, he asked, “Do you have some ideas?”
Andreas said he did, but noted, “Big events are going to be big events. The water’s going to follow historic paths. Guess what? Emmaus High School got flooded and they have never had that.”
Martucci asked Andreas to keep the board of commissioners posted on the Box Elder Road property flooding problem.