Legal Opinion on Drainage Ditch Responsibility

The Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors has received an opinion letter from its legal counsel addressing the maintenance of the community’s drainage ditches.

A memorandum released on Friday, Nov. 16 reveals that Ocean Pines’ Declarations create a distinction between who is responsible for maintaining the drainage channels themselves and the areas generally, according to the opinion prepared by Lerch, Early and Brewer, Chtd., the firm that provides legal representation for the Association.

“In summary, the answer is that the Association is responsible to maintain and repair the drainage courses (i.e. the slope at the bottom of the ditch) and to maintain and ensure the stability of the slopes that run along the roadway,” the memorandum states.

In preparing the opinion, counsel considered responsibility of the drainage channels for Sections 1-14 that run along the roadways and the areas between those specific channels’ slope and the roadways.

Responsibility for areas outside of the ditches themselves in Sections 1-14, such as landscaping of the drainage ditches and the area between the drainage channels and the roadways, does not lie with the Association, according to the memorandum.

“The Association is not responsible to perform landscaping, including mowing, in these areas, unless it is necessary to ensure the functionality of these specific drainage courses or the slopes,” it states.

The memorandum also states that because of ongoing litigation related to a separate drainage-related claim, the counsel’s formal opinion will not be released at this time.

Counsel’s legal opinion will, according to the memorandum, be considered as future drainage program plans, including the finalization of the community’s Drainage Report, are made.

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