Due to a flood map change enacted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Woodstock City Council recently approved an appeal from the South on Main development regarding the placement of a retention pond on the property.
According to City Planner Niwanna Ray, the development has several conditions that were placed upon it by the city, including one stating the development should remain in substantial compliance with the plan submitted to the city in July 2018. The area of the development under appeal is along the western edge of the property near Noonday Creek. When looking at the plan approved by Woodstock in 2018, the properties along the west side were planned out using the 100-year flood plain limits set forth by FEMA in a September 2006 study. However, when the agency came back for a new study in 2019, the 100-year flood plain limits were raised approximately 6 feet and thus impacted a number of parcels on the west edge of the development. As such, the developers submitted a modified plan for the property, changing the usage of some of the parcels in the affected area.
“You can see there’s a handful of lots here that have been replaced with a detention pond,” Ray said as the council took a look at the new plan. “Staff felt the change was not substantially similar to the concept, and we provided written comments during our plan review process. We felt that replacing those residential units with a detention pond no longer was in substantial compliance.”
Following Ray’s presentation, which concluded with her explaining it was not until after these comments had been submitted that staff received word from engineering that the change had been made due to the flood plain revisions, the council heard from Dave Durham, who was representing South on Main.
“From the earliest stages of all of our construction plans, we had a pond located in this northwest corner,” Durham said.
Durham explained that, when the flood plain was raised by six feet, this caused the plain to encroach between 40 and 60 feet into some of the lots in the northwest portion of the development, while a large part of the area where the detention pond would have initially been was covered up by the expanded plain. Durham said the developers worked to try and keep the new plan as close to the approved 2018 plan as possible, such as not modifying the road network and maintaining areas set aside for green space, among others.
Councilman Rob Usher asked Durham if this meant there would still be two ponds, one in the northwest portion of the property and one in the southwest, with Durham answering that is correct. After Councilman Warren Johnson asked how this would affect the total number of lots in the development, Durham responded that the changes would result in a loss of seven lots and that the developers would not have been asking for this had it not been for the change made by FEMA.
“I think it’s an unfortunate situation, but the original plan was done prior to FEMA’s revision. Detailed wetlands surveys might have been able to identify it, but it doesn’t sound like this is something that is being done for a cost benefit. It seems like something that is more out of necessity and is going to result in the loss of lots, so I don’t see an issue with it,” Johnson said.
Johnson then made a motion to approve the change, with Usher seconding the matter and the council approving it in a unanimous vote.