CEDAR FALLS — Homeowners have lost a lawsuit claiming Thunder Ridge developers failed to maintain a detention basin in their backyards.

District Court Judge Brad Harris has dismissed the suit brought by homeowners in The Ridges housing addition against Thunder Ridge West Owners Association and the city over the basin.

Harris said his decision was based on rules granting the city engineer the sole authority to determine whether a detention basin complies with city codes.

“Uncontroverted evidence was presented at trial that the engineer … has inspected the detention basin at issue in this matter and determined that the detention basin is in compliance with the requirements of the city of Cedar Falls,” the Oct. 4 ruling states.

The basin was constructed 20 years ago on the north side of West First Street to handle storm water runoff from commercial development now including the Fareway grocery store, Walgreens, Ampride convenience store, a strip mall and undeveloped ground south of the road. Ravindra Mallavarapu, Mark Hannasch, Chad Benson, Danan Dou, Scott Miller, Mark DeGroote and Zifan Ju, whose homes abut the pond, filed the suit in Black Hawk County District Court in December 2017.

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The homeowners claimed the developers failed failed to maintain the basin, which has silted in, smells and has algae potentially dangerous to human and pet health. They also sued the city for failing to enforce city ordinances and make Thunder Ridge clean up the basin.

They commissioned an engineering report from Shive-Hattery Inc., which recommended the basin be drained, have sediment removed and be restored to original design specifications.

But Harris, who presided over the July 30 bench trial, said it was the city engineer’s ruling that mattered.

“The city engineer has exercised the discretion given to him and determined that additional maintenance on the detention basin is not required,” Harris said in the ruling. “Any issue as to whether the city engineer has properly exercised his discretion is not before this court.”

Harris said homeowners who brought the suit are responsible for the court costs.

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