Monday, October 13, 2008

Some thoughts about our city and ordinances

Bummer, a little setback today. We can't move in until next week now because of a City Ordinance. This is an email I sent to my neighbors to keep them informed. If I get more information I will post it as I might be wrong about details but this is the way that I see things right now.

An Email to My Neighbors

I just want to keep those of you in Spring Valley informed so if someone builds a house next to you or you are building one, you are aware. This type of planning should happen at the beginning when it is easier to move dirt around, I assume, but there seems to be a constant flow of new ordinances and requirements that the city is passing to both protect and control city development – some good, some may be not so good.

The city stated that all water needs to run to the front of the house, we did not know that. Now, the engineering to make this look good while functional seems to be a special feat of skill and budget. After speaking with Art, I am questioning the city's motives about this rule. It is in place to make sure that the water from my property does not flood my neighbor's. In theory this is a good idea, right? Except the following.
  1. We share the back of our lot with a home on Burkhart and the water currently flows away from our home from the backyard into an easement.
  2. We will be building up our lot to create a trough with drains so that no water can flow off of or ON TO our property.
  3. Did I mention the aesthetic issues in doing this?
  4. We are basically building a dam between the houses on either side of us and behind us.
  5. We now have to put in drains (no big deal) that we will have to make sure don't get clogged so that our yard/house will not flood. Plus having to have a yard that is basically not level, playing ball will be fun in the backyard.
  6. We already have gutters with drains that go into a drain that goes to the street on the sides of the house to keep that runoff from drenching our neighbors (no problem).
The spirit of the rule is OK in that it is keeping runoff out of our neighbor's yards. The problem I see is that it basically dams up water in our neighbor's yards. The response I received from the city was that people were complaining about flooding so they created this ordinance. This gives the city the ability to say "the drainage on new construction is right and no water from their property is on yours." Good luck. Here are the problems I have with this.
  1. It seems a bit short sighted in that the way it will work, we will either have to build houses below the current depth or dam the water into our yards.
  2. You are responsible for the water on your property, in theory a good idea except that this is mother nature and there is a natural flow to all of this.
  3. As new homes are developed it will put significantly more water onto the street causing more flooding as it is not running off or absorbing naturally.
  4. New homes will have to water more as much of the water from rain will be captured and moved to the street and not distributed naturally.
  5. My neighbors could still be inconvenienced even if we follow city ordinance because we have basically created a dam that water cannot flow naturally (imagine being between two new houses).
  6. As with many of our new ordinances, we have incurred significant costs including indoor sprinkler systems, warning lights, larger pipes, etc.
All in all, our experience with the city and inspectors has been a good one and it seems they are in a tough spot on this one. But, and this is my opinion, this ordinance puts more burden on neighbors to deal with the problem of flooding while making it easier for city to wash their hands of it.

Again, my opinion, I am no expert but I thought you all should be in the know. If there are some facts about drainage or studies the city did, I would be all ears but man, that is a lot of water in the street.

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