Sun City-Huntley homeowners irked by plan to reduce depth of pond

  • A nearly submerged riser pipe controls water outflow from this Sun City pond, the depth of which Huntley officials want reduced so it can handle more stormwater runoff.

    A nearly submerged riser pipe controls water outflow from this Sun City pond, the depth of which Huntley officials want reduced so it can handle more stormwater runoff. Photo Courtesy of the Village of Huntley

  • An aerial view of the general area showing the Huntley High School property before expansion and the Sun City detention pond, which village officials want to see lowered to handle more stormwater runoff.

    An aerial view of the general area showing the Huntley High School property before expansion and the Sun City detention pond, which village officials want to see lowered to handle more stormwater runoff. Photo Courtesy of the Village of Huntley

 
 
Updated 2/26/2015 12:13 PM

Homeowners in Sun City-Huntley are upset about a plan by the village to lower the depth of a retention pond within the senior living community.

The pond, located behind several homes along Windsor Drive, is roughly 7 feet deep and has been that way since developer Pulte Homes built the Del Webb community more than a decade ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Residents say lowering the water level could affect property values, aesthetics of the pond and the ecology.

"I don't want a swamp in my backyard. I want the pond," said homeowner Joan Ekstrom, 59, who has lived there six years. "That's why I bought the house. I don't want my property to depreciate. But nobody is talking about the wildlife. We have geese, heron, fish, muskrats, beavers, foxes ... these are things that I enjoy. I don't want these things to go away."

Huntley officials say the water level should never have been that high because the pond originally was designed to handle stormwater runoff during heavy rainfall.

Village Engineer Tim Farrell said a water quality riser pipe put in by the developer when the detention pond was first dug is restricting the outflow of water.

"It should have been removed 10 years ago," Farrell said. "It's put in for erosion control. It's just meant to be temporary. The pond vegetation was established within a year. At that time, that water quality riser should have been removed."

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Farrell said the riser artificially inflated the normal water level of the pond, which would have been 5 feet. The pond is required to have 32.8 acre-feet of detention volume.

"It is taking up reserve volume for stormwater runoff from the Del Webb community," Farrell said. "(The pond) doesn't have the capacity to take on the water from the storm event that it was designed for."

Though there hasn't been any major flooding in the area during the past 10 years, Farrell said the village cannot take the risk.

Once the riser pipe is removed this spring, the water level eventually will drop back down to 5 feet. "The excess water will naturally flow out and it will go back to its designed normal depth," he said.

Arnold Mattis, 66, who moved to Sun City six months ago and whose property abuts the pond, said homes backing up to the pond were sold at premium prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"People paid extra to buy those houses along the water," he said. "The neighbors are all upset about this. It's going to affect the resale value, affect the aesthetics because the water is going to recede. It's going to expose plant life that is underwater, expose goose droppings. It's going to create a horrendous stench as this stuff rots."

Sun City's executive director will meet with village and Huntley School District 158 officials in mid-March to discuss the pond.

The pond depth came up last fall during a community meeting about construction on the Huntley High School property, which adjoins the pond.

Water runoff from the Sun City neighborhood and surrounding area drains into the pond, which then discharges through a storm sewer network that passes through the high school property.

When the high school reviewed its own stormwater management program, officials noticed the riser pipe at the Sun City pond outlet.

Farrell said future heavy rains could flood the Huntley High School property because the pond does not have enough capacity.

"We are stewards of the National Flood Insurance Program," Farrell said. "Now that we know it's there, we have a duty to avoid loss of property."

District 158 Superintendent John Burkey said because the pond is on Sun City property, the district doesn't have any control over it.

"Any issues relating to the pond are between Sun City and any applicable regulatory agencies," Burkey said. "We always try to be good partners and neighbors, but we don't have much say in this issue."

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