Complaints of flooding along the Novi-Lyon Drain has led to a study that officials hope will identify the problem areas in order to figure out a solution.

Spicer Group wants to assist the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office with the evaluation that is proposed in three parts: the first phase will be a field investigation including a visual inspection of each drain at the 18 road crossing locations. Phase two will then require the analysts to develop a model that would identify the areas of the drain needing improvements in order to withstand a 10-year storm event. Lastly, engineers will report back with findings and suggested next steps. But certain steps needed to be taken to evaluate the floodplain as the Novi-Lyon Drain is a Chapter 4 Drain, meaning the drainage district, which includes parcels in Novi in addition to Lyon Township, can only perform maintenance to a level that officials don’t think will be enough to make significant improvements.

The proposal came before the township’s Board of Trustees Monday, but officials were slightly uneasy with a provision in the proposal that sought assurance from the board that they would support improvement projects to address the problems identified in the study. Some board members were concerned, stating that they may then have to support projects that have the potential to be expensive and would then fall on the property owners that are assessed in the drainage district. Officials worried they may be agreeing to something without knowing the final cost and before they even know what the issues with the drain are, though they are confident that they are there.

But Trustee Sean O’ Neil felt it was better to tackle the issue now before things get worse stating, "...nobody wants to open Pandora's box. Everybody knows it's right, but nobody's had the stomach for it. A leaky rough doesn't fix itself; it just gets worse." The board agreed, feeling they could not delay the inevitable and that doing so would only leave the problem on a bigger scale for the future.

The board ultimately voted unanimously to approve the proposal. The $25,000 study will be funded through an assessment to appear on the winter tax bill, with the assessment based on the property owner’s acreage contributing to the district. (DK)