Flood-Prone Homeowners Want City to Buy Them Out

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Their homes have flooded every year for the past three years, and now they want out.

Homeowners living in Lansing's Burchfield neighborhood, like Lori Fruk, want the city to buy them out of their homes before the waters rise again this year.

"We can't go through this every time it floods," said Fruk, who has been forced to live in her mother's basement since her home originally flooded in 2011.

Fruk says they've spent more than $40,000 on repairs and it's just not worth it anymore.

"We finally decided we cannot rebuild anymore, we can't keep putting money into the house," she said.

She and a few neighbors have been working with the city for years to find a solution, with the latest possibility on the table proposing the city buy their homes, demolish them, and the turn the properties into green space.

"It would eliminate a bottleneck that we have there," said Carol Wood, who chairs the city's ways and means committee.

"It allows the rest of the homeowners to not have to suffer because there is a place for this (water) to drain."

According to a city memorandum it would cost "in excess of $300,000" to buy up roughly 8-10 homes on the block.

It's a move that would be a lot cheaper than replacing the sewer system which has been at least partly blamed for the issue.

A joint meeting between the city's public services and ways and means committee is scheduled for Friday to discuss the proposal.

Wood said they are waiting for the report from the city's internal auditor to determine if the money would be available in the city's general fund.

"I think when they come to us with a plan and with suggestions it bears our responsibility to try to investigate them to determine whether it's possible or not," Wood said.

Chad Gamble, Lansing's public service director cautioned council members against pursuing this particular proposal, saying it had the potential to set precedent for homeowners in flood prone areas in other parts of the city.

"Council is opening themselves up to an issue which begs the question 'where does it end'" Gamble questioned.

"We're not against finding a solution, we just need to do it in the best interest of the community."

For Fruk, she says they've waited long enough for a solution.

"We've been going around for three years now, and we just want resolution, we need a safe home to live in," she said.

"Something has to be done, we can't come back here, we can't risk our lives."

The joint meeting is scheduled for Friday at 4:15pm at Lansing City Hall.

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