Sometimes a lot of water runs through the stream behind Laurie Allen’s home on Seaview Terrace. By erosion, the flow has been gradually widening the streambed at the expense of her backyard. The water comes from as far away as the Captain Albert Stevens School a half mile up the grade leading to the Route 1 bypass, and other culverts and swales converge on the stream from the east and west.

On these points, Allen and city officials would agree. But the consensus in a drawn-out and at times ugly public battle over the management of the stream ends there.

The stream continues past Allen’s house, passing beneath Northport Avenue, Waldo County General Hospital and eventually emptying into the bay.

As Allen sees it, this qualifies it a branch, or maybe a trunk, in the city’s stormwater management system, analogous in function to a sewer pipe or drainage ditch.

City officials regard the stream, which appears on maps dating back nearly a century, as a natural waterway akin to larger outlets like Little River, Wescott Stream or even Penobscot Bay. Stormwater, the thinking goes, drains into natural waterways and this one is no different.

With one exception.

The course of the stream between the Seaview Terrace homes and what is now the Waldo County General Hospital annex was shifted in the late 1960s to make way for the construction of a new subdivision, of which Allen’s house was a part. The natural waterway originally ran beneath where Allen’s home stands today.

Environmental regulations relating to stormwater management were different then, and the stream diversion probably didn’t draw the attention it would today. Nor did the developer make provisions for future developments in the area that would increase the volume of water trying to find its way to the bay, and starting in the 1980s lead to flooding in the homes on Seaview Terrace.

When Allen bought the property in 2010, she didn’t know the stream had been moved. In fact, she didn’t know it was there at all.

She had been living in New Jersey, and much of her house hunting was done online. The one time she visited the Seaview Terrace house, she said, there was so much snow that the stream couldn’t be seen. She also contends that the real estate agent didn’t disclose the stream.

“Had I known that that stream was there, I would have never bought the property,” she said, adding that she has an ongoing dispute with the real estate agent over the issue.

Allen was able to buy the home without taking out a mortgage. Ironically, this allowed her to bypass the standard flood hazard determination lenders typically require, which would have revealed the home to be in a flood zone.

The spring after she moved in, Allen witnessed what she described as a roaring run-off that filled the four-foot-deep streambed and nearly spilled over into her yard, and those of her neighbors.

Typical of subdivisions from the 1960s, the topography of Seaview Terrace is essentially flat. As a consequence, Allen worries that even minor flooding from the stream could cause widespread damage in the neighborhood.

Last April, she started petitioning the city to shore up the banks of the stream. By her account she was initially given helpful information but officials quickly turned a cold shoulder.

City officials have stated publicly that they considered Allen concerns but concluded that the stream was not the city’s responsibility.

This view was reiterated in late December by City Attorney Bill Kelly who was asked to weigh in after a series of impassioned and sometimes-pointed appeals by Allen given during the public comment portion of three City Council meetings.

“I am significantly influenced by the fact that in 1987 an engineer was hired by the City … and he found no evidence of any obligation of the City to maintain the stream/drainage swale in that area at that time,” Kelly wrote. “That was 24 years ago. I have to assume that when the matter was freshly being discussed in 1987, they also looked at the historical evidence of the prior 20 years in terms of any control or maintenance over that drainage swale as exercised by the City. I have not found any evidence that the City was ever deeded any form of easement or took control of it.”

Kelly’s opinion served as the last word from the city on the subject, and officials contacted by VillageSoup for this article declined to comment further.

Allen recently pulled down the fabric screening material from the chain link fence that surrounds her back yard and draped it over the eroded stream bank adding large stones to hold it down. To stabilize the bank in a way that would comply with DEP regulations, she said, would cost $45,000 to $75,000, according to an estimate she got from a private contractor — more than she can afford or is willing to pay.

She added that she wouldn’t feel right selling the house knowing, as she does now, the problems with the stream.

Recently, Allen parked her car outside of City Hall and propped a display in the open hatchback of the vehicle. On it were photocopies of documents relating to stream and a large hand-drawn map showing the path of stormwater runoff in the area using symbols suggestive of an offensive football strategy.

She carried a sign reading “Stop Flooding Seaview Terrace.”

It was her latest attempt in an ongoing effort to call attention to a problem the city says is hers.

In a letter dated Feb. 17, City Manager Joe Slocum wrote to Allen to ask that she consider no longer voicing the same concern at Council meetings. The letter expressed sympathy, but said the drainage problems were not the city’s, and that this view was not particular to her property or even the city of Belfast.

“The Council has heard you,” the letter read, “they have all discussed the matter with me and the City Attorney, and there is nothing left for us to do except respectfully agree to disagree.”

Allen disagrees. In the past she has accused certain city officials of conspiring to direct storm runoff to the stream, thus imperiling her property. By the city’s “natural waterway” view of the stream, the property was inherently imperiled, though officials have not said this explicitly.

Speaking at her home on Feb. 29, Allen vented her frustration at what she regarded as Slocum’s request to, in effect, stop complaining to the city.

“How far do you want to go with it,” she said.

The comment was made rhetorically, as though addressing city officials. Allen noted that she moved to Belfast to get away from New Jersey and that she plans to stay here.

“I’m not going away,” she said.