Earlier Concerns Re: Bushy Branch Creek

from City of Raleigh PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE Meeting Minutes (9/10/2003) —

Item #01-81 – Bushy Branch – stormwater – This item was referred to Committee from the August 5, 2003 Council meeting to look at stormwater problems in the area of Chaney Road, Garland Road and Onslow Road.

Stormwater Engineer Senior explained there were several storm events in August in the western part of the City and staff has come up with nine concerns that need to be addressed.  Mr. Senior presented the nine concerns followed by staff recommendations as follows:

1)  The parking lot adjacent to the Domino’s Pizza was expanded resulting in additional runoff.  The expansion apparently took place with proper permits, approvals or appropriate stormwater controls.  Mr. Senior explained it appears the parking lot expansion took place without any City approvals or permits subsequent to adoption of the City’s Stormwater regulations.  Consequently, the responsible parties are in violation of these regulations.  Staff has notified the owner that they must obtain appropriate permits, submit a stormwater management plan for this site, and implement required stormwater controls or they will be subject to enforcement action.  Mr. Kirkman questioned at what point the City would begin assessing fines.  Mr. Senior explained they have a deadline date of September 19.  Domino’s has submitted plans but the plans are not acceptable and require more information.  Fines could run upwards of $5000.00 per day.

2) Sediment was lost from the properly permitted development site at the corner of Kent and Garland Roads.  Based on available information, the rainfall experienced in this area exceeded the design standard for sediment controls.  Mr. Senior explained that the rainfall experienced in this area exceeded the City’s required design standards for sediment controls and consequently the sediment loss would not be considered a violation.  City Conservation inspectors have visited the site and all required sediment controls have been restored and they are currently operating properly.

3) The road ditches, inlets and pipes along both sides of Chaney Road (both east and west of Garland Road) are inadequate to carry significant flows which results in water overtopping the road system at several locations and adjacent properties.  Mr. Senior explained the roadway system and associated drainage in this area was constructed to NCDOT standards and has never been upgraded to meet current City of Raleigh standards.  Since the flooding in this area is systemic and directly related to the substandard roadways, staff would recommend that the roadways and associated drainage systems be upgraded through application of the City’s Street Improvement Program.  This would involve the residents petitioning the City for the improvements and the City assessing the owners for their share of the cost of these improvements.

Mr. Kirkman stated that the installation of curb and gutter simply transfers the problem from one place to another, and questioned if it would solve the problem.  He suggested looking at detention measures in addition to the improvements.  Mr. Senior explained that detention measures would have to be done in conjunction with improvements but noted that will not solve the problem.  He spoke to existing easements and going in and upgrading and the involvement of State and Federal agencies because the stream is jurisdictional.  Any work to that degree would have to be permitted by the Corps of Engineers and the State and would have significant costs involved.  Mr. Botvinick questioned whether there were any upstream properties yet to be developed with Mr. Senior explaining that most of the watershed is developed.  There is an area between the Church and Domino’s that is fairly flat but most of it is in parking.  Even so, it would be less than 1% of the total.  It would be very difficult to find a location for detention because most of the land is jurisdictional.  Mr. Kirkman noted that even 1% may reduce the flooding of someone’s home or reduce erosion.  Mr. Senior added that you would have to look at the cost of that 1%.  Mr. Hunt stated that education programs in the area would have benefits to the property owners.

Mr. Senior, responding to questions, explained that enlarging the ditches in front of the Church is a possibility, but is not something the City has done before.  That type of action would be modifying streets not built to City standards. Mr. Botvinick questioned if Chaney Road were to be improved, is there something that can be done with the pipes and detention of stormwater in public right-of-way?  Mr. Senior explained that is an extremely expensive method, and the City can go into the neighborhood and provide information to the property owners that would include the use of rain barrels, rain guards, petition projects, etc., and is proposing to do just that.  Mr. Kirkman noted that the Robinsons are working on terracing and maximizing vegetation, and the Stormwater Utility program’s credit system will offer incentives for property owners to make improvements.

Mary Jo Deck, 1206 Onslow Road, pointed out that she has been part of the Comprehensive Planning process for this area and they are also looking at stormwater.  The area consists of large, wooded lots and she feels the community would be interested in rain barrels and other low tech solutions.  However, the problem is upstream and needs to be addressed there.

Mr. Dawson pointed out that this is an established neighborhood and is essentially built out and was developed without 2-year detention requirements.  Staff is trying to address policies that created the problem and get them updated.  Ms. Deck stated that the Church is a problem.  This situation was reported two years ago and nothing happened.  There is a huge amount of water coming from the Church.  Mr. Kirkman explained they are looking at ways of speeding up the process of correcting the problem.  They are limited somewhat by enabling legislation, but the Stormwater Utility fee will give the staff to do preventative work.  Ms. Deck urged the Committee to partner with the community in their efforts and questioned if there was a timeline for the Church.  Mr. Senior explained that there is no timeline, but they have to provide adequate time for the Church to do the work.

Zoning Administrator Strickland explained that the parking lot is in violation of City Codes and would expect something to be done immediately, and to do that, they will have to do the stormwater plan.  Mr. Dawson added they will have to have a reasonable time period to do the construction.

Mr. Frank Rogers, 1408 Onslow Road, expressed his appreciation to the Committee for their attention to this matter.  The situation has been bad for a long time and likes the idea of a collaborative effort.  He felt that those “higher on the hill” may have less interest in resolving this matter because they are less impacted.

Mr. Hunt noted that some of the commercial properties will have a significant stormwater fee imposed, and they will save some money by implementing stormwater control measures on their property.

Marina Manion Robinson, 1307 Onslow Road, pointed out that on several occasions, there has been sewage flowing from manhole covers and she worries about the impact of the overflow on Bushy Creek.  The wildlife has all but disappeared over the last few years and she believes the Kentwood Park stream restoration has been effected by this.  They would like for the roads to remain unpaved and try other ways to correct the problem.

Mr. Senior indicated they could try road ditch streets in the area, but this has not been done in the City and staff would have to try to figure out assessments; this action would set a precedent.  Mr. Kirkman added that road ditch streets are part of the recommendations in the Low Impact Guidelines.  Mr. Botvinick pointed out that mowing can be a problem for many property owners.  There are trade offsets to be considered such as acquiring right-of-way from people.  There is an existing Code standard and those standards can vary.  He questioned what are the traffic counts?  The Code has a standard for alternatives but the street must qualify with low traffic counts.

Mr. Dawson noted there are flooding problems with water going overland to get to the creek and this may not be fully addressed with road swales and ditches.  Many of the undersized pipes are within private driveways and do not belong to the City.  They would not have to have typical assessments if the original cross section could be restored rather than make improvements.  Mr. Botvinick pointed out it is the policy of the City not to deal with substandard streets.  Mr. Kirkman stated that the City should not penalize people if it is environmentally beneficial.  Mr. Dawson indicated they would have to look at that as there are numerous substandard streets within the City.

Mr. Hunt asked if there is a definition of “environmentally sensitive street”.  Mr. Senior indicated there is a definition for something similar.  Mr. Botvinick indicated that only applies to the watershed protection overlay areas and Umstead Park.  Mr. Hunt indicated there is a need to think about how the City can accommodate this area.

David Hoggard, 1320 Onslow Road, indicated that Zion Court is curb and gutter and a large cul-de-sac and water coming from it ultimately ends up in their yards.

A roundtable discussion took place between the residents of the neighborhood, the Committee and City staff regarding voluntary compliance for a variety of stormwater control measures, standard streets vs. dirt streets and environmentally sensitive areas, roadway issues and cost benefits, and property owner maintenance of road ditches in front of their property.  Mr. Botvinick gave the issue of sidewalk repairs as an example.  The property owner is responsible for repairing sidewalks along their property and can be assessed for the work if done by the City.  Maintenance of this type must be done system-wide and urged the Committee to be careful.  If this is done, there will a significant amount of water moving very quickly and will result in other problems.

Mr. Isley pointed out there is a need to address the issues with the Church.  Mr. Kirkman suggested the next meeting could be held at the Church.

4) The Robinson’s gravel driveway at 1307 Onslow Road was washed out due to an undersized driveway culvert.  Much of the stone was washed into Onslow Road and into the driveways of the properties on Onslow.  Mr. Senior explained the culvert under this driveway is inadequate and should be upgraded to prevent future overtopping and damage.  Since there is no structural flooding or severe erosion involved, the property owner would be responsible for the full cost of this upgrade.  Mr. Robinson was presented with these findings and took them under advisement.  There was brief discussion regarding the installation of a larger pipe, up to 60″, and the feasibility of installing a pipe over the existing pipe to accommodate flood water.  Mr. Senior indicated that arrangement is typically not feasible because of the costs involved and the difficulty in finding a contractor that would guarantee the work.  Mr. Dawson pointed out that a 54″ pipe in this location could have significant downstream effects.

5) Flooding may have occurred in the watershed that leads from Warwick to Onslow.  Mr. Senior explained this complaint was obtained second-hand and staff has no direct information on exactly what flooded.  However, this area is also served by NCDOT standard streets so it is likely that the substandard roadways contributed to the flooding and that upgrading the roadways to current City standards through the Street Improvement Program would alleviate this flooding.

6) Water from this tributary overtopped Onslow Road as the water made its way to Bushy Branch.  Mr. Senior explained as part of any street improvement project, the capacity of the culvert under Onslow Road would be evaluated and upgraded as necessary to limit overtopping to storms in excess of the 25 year storm.

7) High velocity flood water resulted in severe erosion at several locations in Bushy Branch.  Mr. Senior explained that private property subject to sever erosion would qualify for 2/3 cost share assistance under the City’s Drainage Assistance Policy.  City staff has presented this solution to those owners who have contacted the City.  Any severe erosion occurring within the street r/w or at public roadway crossings would be the direct responsibility of the City and repairs would be coordinated with the Street Maintenance Division for repair as their schedule permits.  Mr. Kirkman indicated it would be appropriate to look at the entire corridor rather than select areas.

8) The sanitary sewer systems surcharged at a manhole on Onslow Road.  Mr. Senior explained this concern was likely the result of infiltration of stormwater due to street and stream flooding and to some degree, subsurface infiltration from saturated soils.  Since this is an undesirable but not necessarily unique occurrence, this issue was brought to the attention of the Public Utilities Department for resolution under their inspection and maintenance program.

9) Floodwaters overtopped Avent Ferry Road and flooded parking lots at the Kensington Park Condominiums.  Mr. Senior explained this concern was examined as part of the Bushy Branch Basin Study completed back in June of 1994.  Flooding in this location can be attributed to a number of causes.  Paramount is the backwater effect from the FEMA mapped Walnut Creek main stem located just downstream from the Avent Ferry roadway crossing.  Due to the magnitude of the drainage area of Walnut Creek at this location, no short term solution is readily available.  Long term stormwater retrofits recommended in the Walnut Creek Study may offer some relief in the future.  In addition, the culverts and repetitive sediment build up at Avent Ferry Rod aggravate this situation.  However, this is an NCDOT maintained roadway and they would be responsible for cleaning out the culverts.  City staff has brought this concern to the attention of NCDOT on numerous occasions in the past.  Some flooding upstream from Avent Ferry Rod may be attributed to lack of capacity in the stream channel itself.  Consultants hired by the City have recently completed a study of this situation and have developed recommendations for potential solutions.  The State Wetlands Restoration Program showed some interest in constructing these improvements as one of their mitigation projects.  City staff provided the plans and documents to the State but we have not yet received a response from the State.

Mr. Kirkman pointed out that in the past, there was some illegal fill in the floodplain on the south side of Avent Ferry Road.  The property owner was notified but nothing was required to remove the fill.  The result was a loss of floodplain and a loss of storage capacity.  Mr. Senior added there were some issues with the stream and the City required the property owner to clean out the stream.

Mr. Hunt stated that the City could do large swales and require the property owner to maintain the area.  Mr. Kirkman added that there needs to be some guidelines for the entire area rather than for just one area.  He asked that the Public Utilities Department provide a report to the Committee regarding the overflow from the manholes and the sewage flowing to the creek.  Mr. Senior pointed out Utilities is investigating this situation, but no report has been prepared yet.  He added that overflows are not uncommon due to a number of factors.  Mr. Kirkman stated that he has concerns over exposed sewer pipes over the creek and the possibility of something hitting and breaking the pipes.

Ms. Robinson pointed out if all these improvements are made, it will be a heavy burden on the property owners in the area.  Many of the residents are retired and cannot afford the costs.  She questioned whether there were any programs available that would offer funding to help with Bushy Branch.  Mr. Kirkman explained there is very limited federal assistance as this is not an isolated problem; it is a nationwide problem.  Mr. Senior added that staff worked with the Wetlands Restoration Program on Kentwood Park stream using State funding, and that was close to $1 million dollars of State money.  There is not a lot of money available for stabilization efforts and is typically left up to the City.  Mr. Kirkman pointed out the City’s 10-year repayment plan is always available.

Ms. Deck, referred to item #2, pointed out there is a gap in the construction period from temporary solutions to a more permanent one, and questioned how long before staff makes a recommendation.  Mr. Senior indicated it’s difficult to give an exact date, but more than likely between 30-60 days.  If there’s an issue, it could be referred back to Committee and the Committee will direct staff to take a look at it.

Mr. Botvinick explained there are two types of stormwater control: 1) temporary facilities during the construction phase, and 2) permanent facilities like detention basins.  There is the possibility of looking at building the permanent facilities in phases and if they choose to do that, the permanent facility will be in sooner.  Mr. Hunt asked staff to come up with some suggestions to address the gap. Ms. Deck questioned how does the Community interface with the City on this?  They want to know the process and be included in the discussions.  The problems are long term and were created by bad decisions.

Mr. Kirkman indicated they will not report this item out of Committee today, and they want to be sure that Capital City Church of Christ is a partner in these efforts.  He would also like to look at a neighborhood meeting to start the process.

Mr. Kirkman recapped the issues for further discussion:

1) a report from Public Works on the sewage overflows;

2) the gap in time in construction for stormwater control measures; and,

3) consideration of environmentally sensitive roads – swales vs. standard streets. 

Ms. Robinson informed the Committee that the developer of the townhomes, located across from the Church, is Moye and Associates and should be included in the talks.

Mr. Kirkman mentioned the Kent Road rezoning proposal, and how development of that property under current standards will continue the problems in the area.  Mr. Hunt pointed out that site plan approval of the townhomes took place in the Planning Commission; there were several neighborhood meetings that took place.  Mr. Senior pointed out they were held to predevelopment runoff rates.  Ms. Deck stated there are many things that will help and there is a need to address this problem or it will only get worse.  The Church cleared a wooded area and put in the parking lot.  Now, two years later everyone is talking about it.

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