Councilman Ledford Backs New Regulations On Runoff, Erosion; Opposes Strict Curbs On Building On Steep Slopes, Floodplains

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Darrin Ledford
Darrin Ledford

City Councilman Darrin Ledford, who oversees planning and zoning, said Wednesday he has always opposed sharp new limits on steep slope and floodplain development as proposed earlier for consideration by the council.

Instead, he recommended a number of steps at the time developers get land disturbance permits that he said would seek to lessen water runoff and erosion.

The earlier measure would have limited development of slopes of 33 percent grade or more to 20 percent of those steep grades.

It would have allowed no more than 51 percent of a floodplain to be developed.

Developers spoke strongly against that proposal, saying it would harm an industry with thousands of employees and curb housing availability. A number of members of the public supported it. Many city residents spoke against over-development marring the city's scenic features, including its hills and water courses.

Councilman Chip Henderson asked if the new plan contained any measures the council had previously discussed. Councilman Ledford said it did not.

Councilman Jerry Mitchell, who often deals with steep slope issues in hilly North Chattanooga, asked if Councilman Ledford had been conferring with the Home Builders Association and, specifically, with Mike Price, an engineer who often speaks for developers. He said he had been charged to work with the group and he had.

Councilman Ledford said he would prefer no further issue on the topic at that meeting, but it could be discussed next week.

He read this statement:

Dear Council members,

I offer for your review information regarding steep slope and floodplain development standards that will positively impact the main interests derived from our public hearing.

The following suggestions have come to fruition by narrowing the scope of vision and asking the question:

How can we build a better foundation from the start by way of design and engineering and give city departments the tools they need to ensure the enforcement of rules?

On Councilman Henderson’s charge for solutions stakeholders, myself and city staff worked very hard over the last two weeks to arrive at impactful and measurable standards to improve the current development environment. I hope you find these standards prove a positive difference and can be placed into action immediately with confidence.

Proposed standards will apply to:

SINGLE FAMILY, RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISIONS, HIGH-DENSITY RESIDENTIAL, MIXED USE, OFFICE, COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL.

I will continue working with our city attorney this week on the “whereas” language, but I humbly submit these recommendations for consideration and discussion. Our work will continue, but I want to ensure we do not invoke irresponsible and unintended consequences with copy and paste language from other cities. I believe our citizens and the development community both deserve the most comprehensive solutions and conversations we can provide.

Respectfully, DTL

He gave this proposal:

Proposed Steep Slope & Floodplain Development Guidelines Established with 1-Year with Review

STEEP SLOPE PROPOSED NEW STANDARDS

Retaining Wall Requirements

o Prior to obtaining a land disturbance permit, drawings for any retaining wall equal to or greater than 4 feet in height must be approved in advance.
o Any retaining walls to be constructed onsite shall be constructed prior beginning construction of the habitual structure unless a wavier is issued by the Land Development Office because of some unusual situation or scheduling issue.

Erosion Control Construction Documents

o Sites which otherwise typically require an erosion control plan, or where located within a floodplain, shall be designed by a registered engineer and or an individual who is in good standing with TDEC having passed the necessary courses with a Level 2 Certification.
o Such sites shall also provide a signed preparers statement stating the following:
o “I hereby certify that the plans prepared were done so with the understanding that this site has steep slopes and that the erosion control measures indicated are designed to address these conditions.”

Additional Land Development Inspection Prior to Foundation Inspection

o Once a land disturbance permit is issued on a site with steep slopes, the foundation footing inspections by City personnel shall occur only once the onsite erosion control measures implemented are inspected and found to be in good standing.

Additional Peak Flow Storm Water Requirements

o Sites with 35% slopes requiring storm water runoff attenuation through storm water detention shall have the peak post construction runoff rates for the 2, 5, 10 and 25-year storm events peak flows reduced by a minimum of 10% of the calculated preconstruction peak storm water runoff rates.
 
FLOODPLAIN PROPOSED NEW STANDARDS

Additional Peak Flow Storm water Requirements
o Sites filling in floodplains areas requiring storm water runoff attenuation through storm water detention shall have the peak post construction runoff rates for the 2, 5, 10 and 25-year storm events peak flows reduced by a minimum of 10% of the calculated preconstruction peak storm water runoff rates.

Erosion Control Construction Documents

o Sites which otherwise typically require an erosion control plan where located within a floodplain therein, shall be designed by a registered engineer and or an individual who is in good standing with TDEC having passed the necessary courses with a Level 2 Certification.
o Such sites shall also provide a signed preparers statement stating the following: I hereby certify that the plans prepared were done so with the understanding that this site is located within a floodplain and that the erosion control measures indicated are designed to address these conditions.



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