Jay Laughlin walked across his lawn, following the path of an underground storm water pipe, when his foot went into a hole.
“That’s a new one,” he said. “Glad I didn’t put too much weight on it.”
The newly minted Brookfield resident, who lives across the street from the former Valley View Department Store property, said he’s been discovering small sinkholes all along the path of the line, and supposes that sections of pipe underneath have separated or deteriorated, causing small cave-ins.
“It’s getting worse,” he said. “I don’t see water coming up, but I’m getting more holes in the yard.”
“You really notice it when you’re mowing,” he added. “The back wheel drops in.”
“We gotta get this cleaned up,” Jay’s wife, Carol said, but no one is sure whose responsibility it is to get it cleaned up.
The line begins at a storm grate and catch basin a few feet from Warren Sharon Road that seems designed to take water off the county road. Although the Laughlins do not know where the property line is, it appears the catch basin is on Ohio Edison property next door, then comes onto their 2 ½-acre property and empties into a heavily vegetated ditch in their back yard, which runs to a stream, way in the back of their yard.
Jay Laughlin said he knew of one sinkhole near the ditch when he and Carol bought the property in June. The dozen or so others have opened since then. The Laughlins have tried to fill in the holes when they discover them.
The previous owners of the property had a sinkhole problem and were dealing with a former county commissioner, said township Trustee Dan Suttles. He said he did not know if there was any resolution, and he’s not sure who would have jurisdiction now.
“I’m at my wit’s end,” he said, “I don’t know where to go.”
Suttles said he would try to reach out to the county, and he and the Laughlins said they would like to talk to previous owners.
“I don’t care whose property – it needs fixed,” Jay Laughlin said. “They’re gonna have to put a new pipe in.”