State sues over Springboro dam safety near Dorothy Lane Market

Ohio’s attorney general filed suit against the owners of a dam in Springboro, accusing them of ignoring orders to fix what he called a deteriorating structure that poses a risk to the Dorothy Lane Market shopping center and surrounding area.

The lawsuit filed in Warren County Common Pleas Court claims the Settlers Walk Homeowners Association and MCS Land Development failed to take action after multiple safety inspections of the Remick Lake Dam by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources found it needs repairs.

“The owners of this dam have shrugged off the state’s warnings for over a decade at the expense of the public’s safety,” Yost said in a release Wednesday. “It’s well past time for them to accept responsibility of this hazard and make the necessary repairs.”

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The dam is located on a large pond off Remick Boulevard between homes and the shopping center at the entrance to the development off Ohio 741 in Springboro.

It is categorized as a Class I dam, meaning a “sudden failure would result in either the probable loss of life or the structural collapse of at least one residence or one commercial or industrial business,” according to the lawsuit.

If the dam failed, the lawsuit claims its spillways would direct floodwater toward a day care center, a strip mall and eight homes located downstream.

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ODNR wants the HOA, representing the homeowners in the development, and MCS, the company managing the retail areas of Settlers Walk, to realign the dam’s emergency spillway, repair its principal spillway and install a lake drain capable of draining the reservoir in a reasonable amount of time.

David Vomacka, a former Springboro city councilman and retired planner who lives in Settlers Walk, said most of his neighbors would rather drain the pond.

“If something should happen to that dam, the water will run down the stream,” Vomacka said. “The residents will quickly decide to drain the pond, excepting those that live right around it.”

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The HOA took ownership of its part of the dam on March 19, 1998, according to the lawsuit.

MCS “acquired the property where part of the dam is located on Sept. 1, 2000.”

The lawsuit claims the HOA and MCS “have endangered the community that surrounds Remick Lake by failing to maintain or operate the Remick Lake Dam in compliance with Ohio’s dam safety laws and rules.”

Still the state leaves it to the courts to decide the property rights and responsibilities in the case.

“However, the determination and extent of property rights and interests are within the exclusive jurisdiction of Ohio’s courts,” said the initial complaint filed by Assistant Attorney General Amber Lucci for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

According to court records, the lawsuit was filed Aug. 2 in Warren County Common Pleas Court and assigned to Judge Robert Peeler.

The summons notifying MCS of the case went to an agent for PS&E Corporate Services in the Kettering Tower in Dayton.

On Wednesday, signs on empty storefronts in the strip center at the Remick entrance listed a contact number for MCS. A call to that number was not returned.

The homeowners’ group summons went to Scott Oxley, its lawyer for decades. Oxley did not return a call requesting comment.

The lawsuit urges Peeler to order the HOA and MCS to comply with state law; and submit “an acceptable schedule” to repair or breach the dam in 30 days and complete work in six months.

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