Scottville abandons alley that has caused conflict among neighbors.

July 6, 2015

The alley on Scott Street between First and Second streets.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — During its regular meeting Monday, the City Commission voted to abandon an alley that has caused some conflicts among neighbors. The alley in question is located on North Scott Street between First and Second streets.

Earlier in the spring, Tina and Mike Buffenbarger of 108 N. Scott Street brought the issue up to the commission. They claimed that neighbor James Steiger of 309 W. First Street had been draining water from his yard to theirs, causing water to come into their home. They said Steiger had also been cutting trees in the unimproved alley. They also have complained that because Steiger’s vehicles have created ruts in the alley, they can no longer mow it. The alley appears to be a stretch of grass rather than a roadway. Two years ago the commission was asked by the neighbors to abandon the alley but voted against that action because a gas utility line runs underneath.

Since the last regular meeting of the commission, city officials have surveyed the property owners whose property borders the alley. Two neighbors stated that they would prefer the city abandon the property but leave an easement. Another neighbor preferred the alley just be closed to vehicular traffic. Steiger was the only neighbor to respond that he would like to not only see the alley left open but that the city make improvements to it.

“This was already approved last year,” Steiger said during Monday’s city commission meeting. “My truck is a heavy and it did put some trenches in there. It needed some improvements and I brought that to Amy’s attention,” he said referring to City Manager Amy Williams. “I have limited parking in the front of my house and I share a driveway with my neighbor. I do not have access to the side of my house. The only access is through the back of the alley. It is deeded zoned. Nobody has had a need to it besides myself. I have parking issues. I have been parking in my front yard just to have parking. I need that alley opened and usable to access the backyard and I have no access to my back yard other than the alley. That’s the whole reason I use it.”

Deb Appledorn of 110 N. Scott Street said that Steiger placed a drain down the alley this spring that drained water from his house into her yard. “I just put my garden in there two weeks ago because it was so wet,” Appledorn said. “I can’t mow that alley now because it’s full of ruts. My neighbors can’t mow it either.”

Mark Buffenbarger said this was the first year since he has lived in his house that he has had water in it. He said he had to buy pumps and also needed the assistance of the city’s department of public works to keep water out of his house.

Steiger did not deny placing a plastic drain pipe from his house down the alley to a storm drain on Scott Street. He said he asked permission from the city manager to add some drain tile to the alley but also stated he did not communicate that the drainage would go through his neighbors’ yards.

“I was having the same problem with my basement,” Steiger said. “There’s water in my basement in the springtime, of course; it’s knee deep. Water goes down hill. It did flood their back yard. It’s something that needs to be fixed and I have brought it up to Amy.”

“Essentially, you are moving the water to everybody’s back yard with no consideration to your neighbors,” Commissioner Ed Hahn said to Steiger. “What you are doing right now is what is best for you at the expense of your neighbors without any consideration.”

The commission voted unanimously to abandon the alley but keep an easement. Following the vote, Steiger stormed out of city hall.

During public comment later in the meeting, two residents who live in that neighborhood told Police Chief Don Riley that they were concerned about their safety because of the city’s vote.

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