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Decatur Diary | March 22, 2014

Mopping Up: UDO Stormwater meeting Wed., March 26

Stormwater | Wednesday, March 26 | 7-9pm | Decatur City Hall

As the densest city in Georgia, Decatur’s all too familiar with the challenges presented by stormwater. Clearly, our ability to grow and develop is crucial to many of our long-term community goals — from aging-in-place, to broader diversity, to supporting our schools and services with sound economic strategies — but that doesn’t make the water go away.

Enter the currently-underway Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), which presents us a unique opportunity to refine our existing stormwater approach and inject it with greater flexibility and choice for city residents.

Here’s the basics on how stormwater regulation works: First, there are the minimum standards required by state and federal law. That’s the one-size-fits-all approach. Then, there’s the prospect of tailoring those mandated regulations to fit the realities of a particular place. That’s the approach Decatur has taken for many years.

Finally, there’s the option of going well beyond standard protocols and tailored solutions with stricter regulations targeting specific long-term outcomes. But this is a path city residents have repeatedly expressed they do not want to pursue.

Which leaves us with this: The UDO’s approach to stormwater will be neither less stringent than it currently is, nor more stringent. Instead, we’ll strive for smarter and easier.

Join us Wednesday, March 26, from 7-9pm at City Hall for the second of our UDO Drill-Down sessions. Members of the UDO engineering team will be on hand to present on Decatur’s stormwater challenges and how those challenges are currently managed. They’ll also have areas for community input on key unresolved questions associated with flexibility and choice:

  1. Trees. Trees aren’t currently recognized, at least in the code, for their ability to absorb water and contribute to stormwater reduction. This results in trees being periodically removed to allow for required stormwater retention systems, creating a scenario in which addressing one problem (retention) exacerbates another (tree canopy). Should the UDO rectify this?
  2. Green Infrastructure. A variety of low-impact, lower cost, green interventions — such as permeable concrete, grass-paving systems, rain gardens and cisterns — have reached the point where they’re now proven and recognized within state ordinances. Should Decatur add these approaches to its list of choices in how homeowners can meet requirements? Which green approaches do you prefer? Is there anything we haven’t thought of?

If you’ve got ideas or concerns about how our stormwater regulations can become smarter and easier, this is your opportunity to drill down. Please make time to join us.

 

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