Storm water can pit neighbor vs. neighbor

Corcoran residents wonder what to do 

What does a homeowner do when water runs from his neighbor’s yard onto his property after every heavy rain and brings with it many inches of mud, manure and fertilizer? Where can he go for help?

Greg Hoglund, of 19220 Hackamore Road, has asked these questions at more than one Corcoran City Council meeting. At a meeting in May he said the runoff problem was urgent and he wanted an action plan for dealing with it. On Thursday, June 26, he was back and expressing frustration. The mud, manure, fertilizer slurry has flowed into his back yard nine times within the past two months. During recent heavy rains he was sandbagging around his yard at 4 a.m., and the mess arrived anyway — covering his patio and filling his swimming pool.

Hoglund has gone so far as to install a drain in his yard, but this has not been enough to deal with the large volume of water. He said he would need many drains to keep up with the heavy flow.

He chose a perfect time to come before the council. Susan Nelson, of Wenck and Associates was at the podium explaining Corcoran’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requires Corcoran to hold an SWPPP public hearing every year in order to comply with the city’s permit for discharging storm water into water bodies.

Before talking with Nelson, Hoglund complained about poor communication with the city of Corcoran. He had been trying for two months to get a solution to his problem from the city. He finally learned that he is on his own and/or he can choose to sue his neighbor. Meanwhile, during those two months he could have built a berm.

Mayor Ken Guenthner apologized for a “communication disconnect.” He and city staff had talked with him several times and taken a look at his property. He thought Hoglund wanted home builder Lennar to install stormwater control systems in the recently approved Ravinia development, which will be located nearby. Guenthner did not know that Hoglund wanted to know how to get the neighbor to do something.

Guenthner said that usually the city cannot intervene in a dispute between two property owners. When a development is being proposed nearby, Corcoran can require the developer to find ways to keep stormwater on his property.

Corcoran resident Chuck Lymangood also said that quite a lot of water has been coming onto his property from neighboring properties.

City Engineer Kent Torve answered that the city does not have a lot of remedies for neighbor versus neighbor issues. In Lymangood’s case, Corcoran can look at stormwater controls while working with developers for the proposed Peachtree subdivision.

The Mayor said he has had his own stormwater problem at his home. His next door neighbor has dug into a marshland that was diverting storm water away from the Guenthner property. The neighbor also has installed a paved driveway. Now water is running from the neighbor’s yard down the Guenthner driveway.

Mayor Guenthner said he wished he had thought to come to City Hall to ask questions when the neighbor was working on his property. Now, years later, Guenthner has no ideas about what to do, other than make an enemy of his neighbor.

Hoglund asked, “Does anyone care that stormwater is carrying manure and fertilizer from my neighbor’s property down to Elm Creek?”

Water Resources Consultant Nelson said, “Yes.” The Elm Creek Watershed Commission is working on its third generation watershed management plan. The commission is “very concerned” about the stormwater problem and is working to solve it. The watershed district soon will require cities to have manure management ordinances similar to the one used by Medina. The district does not have the authority to regulate agriculture, but it can regulate hobby farms.

Nelson referred residents to the city of Corcoran website, for information about storm water management. Under the “Services” menu, click on “Environmental.”


In other business, the city council accepted a $5,000 cash donation from Rosalyn Milbrandt “with much appreciation.” She requested that the money be used to maintain the memorial garden and walking path on City Hall property.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]