Union County Ditches, 1861-2015
(Updated: November 1, 2015)
Full Ditch List: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Ditch Records (1861-2014)
These records contain a record of proceedings relative to the establishment and construction of county and joint county ditches, including copies of petitions for establishing ditches, petitioners’ property boundaries, notices of hearings, reports of viewers, commissioners; findings and orders, county engineer’s reports of surveys and construction cost estimates, notices of bid lettings for construction. Orders of assessments to be placed on the tax duplicate by the county auditor, and plan of each ditch showing date of entry, name and number of ditch, contractor, conditions of contract for construction of the ditch, and date construction completed.
On March 27, 1861, the Ohio General Assembly passed a law “to provide for locating, establishing and constructing ditches, drains and watercourses” in the state. This law gave the Board of County Commissioners when in their opinion “be conductive to, the public health, convenience or welfare, to cause to be located, established and constructed…any ditch, drain, or water-course, within such county. Prior to this time the locating and constructing of ditches was a power held exclusively by the local townships. The law has evolved and changed over time, but the basic mechanics of the process has remained the same.
A petition is filed in the commissioners’ office requesting the establishment or improvement of a ditch, drain or watercourse.” The commissioners view the petitioned ditch and the county engineer prepares a preliminary report on the costs and feasibility of the project. A public hearing is held to hear any evidence by the abutting property owners for or against granting the proposed improvement. If the commissioners decided to proceed then the county engineer surveys, develops plans and finalizes the estimated cost of construction in a detailed report. The county auditor prepares an assessment list, so those benefited from the project pay a portion of its costs. A final public hearing is then held for those benefited by the project to hear evidence either in support or against the county engineer’s report or the auditor’s assessment. If the petition is granted and the engineer’s report and auditor’s assessments are accepted then the project is put out to bid and after a review of the received bids the commissioners award a contract. If the project is a large project the commissioners may issue bonds to finance the project. If the petition is granted or if it is dismissed the owner may appeal the decision of the commissioners to the court of common pleas.
The most significant change in the law since its inception occurred on August 23, 1957, when O.R.C. 6137 went into effect. This law required the county commissioners to establish and maintain a fund for the repair, upkeep, and permanent maintenance of each improvement constructed under the provisions of the drainage laws. An annual assessment is placed on those benefiting from the original ditch improvement and the funds are place in the specific ditch maintenance fund for the annual repair and upkeep of the ditch.