News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 19, 2013

Property owner seeks halt to Hulman Lake dam project

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute property owner is seeking an injunction that would at least temporarily halt the city’s work on the Hulman Lake dam project.

The request for an injunction was filed in Vigo County Court on April 30 under the name C. Long LLC, which owns property along Hulman Lake. The lake is on the east side of town along Hulman Street west of Indiana 46/U.S. 40.

A judge is expected to hear the injunction request in Vigo County court July 1.

The formal complaint states that the lake has caused erosion and damage to private property outside of an area for which the city’s sanitary district has an easement. The complaint also states that plans to improve the lake’s dam would encroach on C. Long LLC-owned private property.

Joseph A. Cloutier is the sole member of C. Long LLC, according to court documents. An offer to comment for this article was extended to Cloutier through his legal counsel, Terre Haute attorney Kelvin Roots.

Chuck Ennis, city engineer and a member of the Sanitary Board of Commissioners, declined to comment Friday due to the matter being in court. Terry Modesitt, attorney for the sanitary district, said he knows the sanitary district is considering plans to fix the erosion problem and he hopes the matter can still be resolved without an injunction.

The erosion from the lake is “continuous, ongoing and progressive,” according to the formal complaint. The city’s failure to halt the problem amounts to a “taking” of land without due process, it further contends.

Sanitary district officials worry a delay to the project could threaten federal funding pledged to help pay to raise the level of the dam, according to minutes from the most recent Board of Sanitary Commissioners meeting. The state of Indiana has pledged $750,000 in federal block grant funding for the project, covering most of the expected cost.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources now requires that all dams whose breach would affect significant levels of infrastructure and homes be raised to a level to withstand a massive rain known as a “probable maximum precipitation” (PMP) event. For Terre Haute, a PMP event would involve 26 inches of rain in 24 hours. To comply with that requirement, the sanitary district plans to raise the level of the Hulman Lake dam about five feet.

The city created Hulman Lake in the 1970s as part of a Thompson Ditch flood control plan.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes

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