Warners man accuses Thruway of flooding his land

A Warners man has taken the unusual step of billing the New York State Thruway Authority $42,087 for the cost of combating flood water on his property.

Doug Henry owns DCH Property Holdings at 2511 Warners Road. The 11 acre parcel is adjacent to the Thruway which is in the final stages of a 15 mile reconstruction project. Henry says Thruway engineers called for drainage pipes under the roadway to be extended in such a way that caused much of his land to become flooded.

He says the project violates state environmental laws governing wetlands and drainage. Henry showed CNY Central's Jim Kenyon the pipes, which were installed during the the construction project, and the retention ponds he was forced to construct to handle the flood water.

Henry claims that a hydrologist he hired estimates that between 20 to 250 gallons of water drains onto his property every minute depending on recent rain events. Henry says the flooding has severely affected his plans to built on his land.

Henry showed Kenyon several months of communications with the State Thruway Authority that accompanied his billing statements of $2,500 per month. In those communications, the Authority's Syracuse Division Construction Manager, David Mellen informs Henry that the agency is "unwilling to accept the charges..."

In one letter Mellen writes, "Based on our design analysis, the flow is the same and may be slightly less than it was before the project work began."

On April 25th, Henry responded in a letter that said in part, "A jury does not exist that would believe that the New York State Thruway, or any other person, would spend millions of dollars improving drainage features were it not necessary to handle an increased volume of water. They would also not believe that the surfaces, soil and hydrology had not been changed by such a massive project." Henry included aerial photographs in hopes of proving his point.

On May 3rd, State Senator John DeFrancisco wrote to Thruway Chairman Howard Milstein on Henry's behalf. The letter reads in part: "Mr. Henry's property has taken an increased amount of water, due to pollutants and water that is drained along the Thruway and being channeled to his property. This has caused extensive damage to his property. I ask that you investigate Mr. Henry's complaints and contact him regarding resolution of this matter."

Henry says the next day he received word that a representatives of the State Department of Environmental Conservation wanted to meet with him, but the meeting has not yet taken place.

Read the letters.