According to Ryan Gregory, it all started with a clogged sewer in mid-February. He said that was when he and his wife Ella noticed a few small holes in the front yard of their home on Lowry Hollow Road in Clay Township.
Within a short time, those few small holes had grown to what looks to be a sinkhole, probably large enough to swallow a car.
“In a matter of days it was huge,” Ryan says, adding the hole destroyed his driveway. He says water also reached his basement.
Of the two, Ella was apparently the first one to contact Clay Township officials.
“They never did anything; we never heard anything,” Ryan says. “That’s what I was so aggravated about. I said that we needed help just to make our neighborhood a little safer.”
Ryan claims the township’s interest was piqued when the family threatened to go to the media. According to Ryan, officials were at his home the next day. Unfortunately for the Gregorys, the township determined that the sinkhole was on the family’s property and, therefore, not the responsibility of Clay Township.
“We’re trying to do everything we can,” Township Trustee William Runyon says. “It’s not a township issue; it’s off the right-of-way.”
Although sympathetic, fellow trustee Timothy Hines largely agrees.
“There’s a hole that developed off the right-of-way,” he says, adding the township is legally barred from working on private property. “We can’t cross that line.”
According to Hines, once a precedent is set, the township conceivably could end up fixing driveways throughout the town.
“I feel for these people, I really do. It’s just that there is nothing we can do for them.” Hines says.
“I understand the idea of the law,” Ryan says. “I respect that.”
But he also wondered out loud where the law ends and common sense and the simple idea of a helping hand begins.
“It’s a matter of right and wrong,” he says.
Ella took to Facebook to get her family’s story out, posting repeatedly on the Voices of Clay Township page. She declined to comment for this story.
“I just want to say I’m so sorry in advance,” Ella said speaking to her neighbors via one of her Facebook posts.
Ryan says the property owners on either side of his home also were affected. He’s worried what might happen if one of the homes involved requires emergency services, concerned safety forces might not be able to reach three homes on the street, including, of course, his own.
“I just don’t understand how they could leave three homeowners basically cut off,” Ryan adds.
Both Ryan and, through her Facebook posts, his wife, talked about how the township eventually came out and shored up the road. In the meantime, Ryan says he and his family are looking at $7,400 in bills to get the hole permanently fixed.
“It comes down to dollars and cents,” he says. “It should have come down to helping your neighbor.”
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931