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Cherokee/Scotland Public Meeting - October 25, 2005

Meeting Date: October 25, 2005

Time: 7:00 – 8:00 pm

Location: Christ Episcopal Church
                 1412 Providence Rd.
                 Charlotte, NC

Meeting TopicFirst Public Meeting – Existing Conditions Analysis
Cherokee/Scotland Storm Water Capital Improvement Project

Meeting Summary
Steve Sands began the formal presentation to the citizens and Council Member Patsy Kinsey in attendance at approximately 7:10 pm, following the agenda outline as provided below.

I.             Welcome and Meeting Purpose
Steve Sands welcomed the attendees, stated that the purpose of this first public meeting was to introduce the project to the citizens, present the results of the Existing Conditions Analysis, and gather input from the citizens.  The citizens were asked to complete the information on the sign-in sheet, and were provided an agenda, an 8.5" x 11" exhibit showing the Existing Conditions Analysis results, and business cards for the Project Team.  The Cherokee/Scotland project is a Charlotte Storm Water Services (CSWS) Capital Improvement Project (CIP) that will reduce flooding and erosion within the area by improving the local storm drainage systems.  The project is currently in the beginning stages of the Planning Phase. 

II.          Introduction of the Project Team

  • Steve Sands introduced himself and Sandi Hayes and explained that USI has been helping the City manage projects since project demands exceeded available City staff.  However, their role was ending and the City will be taking over all management responsibilities for this project in the upcoming future. 
  • Troy Eisenberger was introduced as the City Project Manager and the new point contact for citizens.  Jennifer Glotfelty and Danée McGee from CSWS were also introduced. 
  • Neal Banerjee and Emily Humphreys from Dewberry were introduced and their role includes performing the technical analysis for the project.

III.       Project Phases

Storm Water Services – Capital Improvement Program

  • Steve Sands explained that Storm Water Services was created in 1993. With the creation of CSWS, a storm water hotline (336-RAIN) was established to log storm water concerns identified by citizens.  CSWS's first priority is to address public safety concerns, specifically property damage and road flooding.  Yard flooding and erosion concerns are prioritized based on the extent and potential for flood damages.  Yard flooding is normal and may or not qualify for improvements.  CSWS will address yard flooding if it receives runoff from a public right-of-way and threatens public safety or could lead to property damage if unaddressed.  Addressing significant erosion and stabilizing channels is important because roads and homes may be threatened if not addressed.  

Drainage concerns are logged in the storm water hotline database, investigated by a drainage inspector, ranked according to category and priority, and are primarily addressed with the Maintenance Program.  Specifically, maintenance projects address isolated problems that can be fixed quickly and have no adverse impacts downstream.  Larger, more complex drainage problems that are interconnected must be addressed with a Capital Improvement Project that considers the complexity and connectivity of the entire watershed.  The number of open (unresolved) requests and the type of problems in the Cherokee/Scotland area identified the need for this Capital Improvement Project (CIP). 

  • The average CIP has a budget of $2 – 4 million.
  • The CIP will allow the outstanding storm water problems in Cherokee/Scotland to be addressed and corrected; however, construction of the project could be disruptive at times.   CSWS goals are to work with the neighborhood residents to develop improvements that address the problems, meet the needs of the community, and minimize disruption.
  • There are six phases involved in a Capital Improvement Project:
    • The Planning Phase typically lasts 12-27 months depending on the size of the watershed.  Existing problems and improvement solutions are identified during this phase.
    • During the Design Phase, construction plans and cost estimates are developed in addition to identifying easements needed to construct and maintain the improvements.  The Design Phase typically lasts 21-34 months.
    • Applicable permits from agencies will be obtained during the Permitting Phase.
    • During the Real Estate Phase, real estate agents will contact property owners to discuss the project and obtain needed easements.  The Real Estate Phase typically lasts 9-12 months.
    • The construction plans are advertised and a qualified bidder is selected to construct the improvements during the Bid Phase.  The Bid Phase typically lasts 4-5 months.
    • The Construction Phase typically lasts 12-27 months and depends on the size of the project.  Construction of the proposed improvements occurs during this phase.

Citizen Involvement

  • Steve Sands stated that citizen involvement was important in the project and the team specifically wanted to hear the citizens and community's concerns.
  • Two sources of citizen information have already been utilized: 336-Rain requests (dating back to 1993) and citizen questionnaires distributed to the community at the beginning of the project.  In addition, feedback from this meeting will be used as another source of citizen information. 
  • Steve Sands noted that this was the first of three public meetings that will be conducted for the Cherokee/Scotland CIP project.  The second public meeting will occur at the end of the Planning Phase to present the recommended improvement solutions and gather addition citizen feedback.  The third public meeting will occur near the end of the Design Phase (70% complete) to present design/construction plans and discuss specific impacts to the neighborhood and private property.  Steve also noted the real estate meetings would occur one-on-one with individual property owners when necessary. 

Existing Conditions Analysis – Refer to exhibit

  • Steve Sands described the presentation exhibit, with the existing drainage systems shown in black and red.  Black indicates where the existing system meets the current design standards and red indicates where the existing system does not meet the current design standards.   The majority of the existing drainage systems are highlighted red and do not meet current design standards. 
  • One citizen requested further explanation on why all of the drainage systems shown in red were problematic and what constitutes system(s) not meeting current design standards.  The Project Team explained a number of factors/issues can constitute part of the system not meeting design standards.  The following examples were provided: excessive inlet spread (water that could pond across and along a street) can cause flooding of roads; pipes are not large enough to handle the amount of flow coming into them, and the system causing flooding of structures or roads.  It was noted that many of the pipes in this area are old and the current design standards were developed after the neighborhood and pipes were constructed.  The Project Team also noted that just because the drainage system does not meet current design standards does not indicate there is a problem or that a problem exists that needs to be addressed with the project.  
  • Steve Sands described the Cherokee/Scotland main channel as flowing into Briar Creek.  Briar Creek has a 15 square mile drainage area and impacts from this creek will not be addressed with this project. 

IV.        Next Steps and Remaining Phases

  • Steve Sands summarized the remaining steps in the Planning Phase which include developing improvement alternatives, selecting alternatives, conducting a 2nd public meeting, and negotiating with the consultant for design services.  The remaining phases of the project include design, permitting, real estate, bid, and construction. 

V.           General Questions/Answers and Workshop

Steve Sands concluded the formal presentation by requesting that the citizens ask general questions related to the project or CSWS.  Steve also stated that a workshop could be held to discuss specific issues/problems after the general question and answer period.  Steve noted that due to the number of attendees, a workshop may not be necessary but that the citizens could talk to one of the CSWS, USI, or Dewberry team members.  The Project Team recorded citizen comments during the workshop on 24" x 36" exhibits of the Existing Conditions Analysis results. 

General Questions/Answers

  • A citizen wanted clarification on what happened at the City in 1993 with regard to the creation of Storm Water Services.
    • Storm Water Services was created in 1993, started collecting fees, established the 336-Rain hotline, and begin programs to improve drainage systems.  Prior to 1993, the City was not able to improve drainage systems or address flooding issues on private property.
  • The citizen replied by asking what CSWS has been doing with the money collected with those fees since 1993. 
    • SWS is currently working on forty projects and they have completed approximately forty capital improvement projects.
    • During the first year of operation (1993) CSWS received over 6,000 requests for service.  Due to the volume of requests compared to the amount of funds received through the storm water fee, the City also sells bonds to help fund improvement projects.
  • A citizen asked what open and closed requests mean.
    • Open requests are associated with drainage problems reported to 336-RAIN that have not been solved and are interactive with other problems.  Closed requests may represent drainage problems that were improved or resolved with quick fixes by the Maintenance Program.    The 336-Rain requests are symbolized on the exhibit based on status (open or closed requests) and priority.  The green and yellow shading on the exhibit represent parcels where questionnaires were returned by citizens and the type of problem noted on the questionnaire response.
  • One citizen asked if we were looking into the possibility of moving the existing drainage system.
    • CSWS begins looking at improvement solutions along the current system alignments.  Sometimes physical conflicts such as new homes, utilities, vegetation, and topography may restrict improvements along existing alignments.  In those cases, improvement alternatives along different alignments may be considered, if appropriate.   
  • A citizen asked about what we do to avoid trees.
    • CSWS investigates different alternatives to minimize impacts to the neighborhood including impacts to trees; however, sometimes trees must be removed.  Also, construction very close to large trees may cause damage to the root system and it is better to remove the trees during construction than wait for them to have health problems later.
  • Another citizen asked about whether the City has easements on the existing drainage system.
    • CSWS may have an easement at a specific location if previous CSWS work was constructed on the property in the past.   
    • Public drainage easements may exist on a property; however, those types of easements are not specifically dedicated to CSWS.  In order to construct proposed improvements on private property, CSWS will need an easement.  Information about specific easement needs and whether or not existing easements dedicated to CSWS exists will be discussed the individual property owners during the Real Estate Acquisition Phase
  • One citizen asked if other projects encounter issues with soil and have as much clay as the Cherokee/Scotland area.
    • CSWS replied yes and another citizen noted they saw trees uprooted with very shallow root systems (due to the clay soil) after Hurricane Hugo.
  • A citizen asked whether or not CSWS will be looking at water retention options.
    • CSWS stated that improvement options that utilize wet and dry detention ponds are investigated; however, those options require a large area to be effective and finding available land is challenging.
  • One citizen asked if there is a map he can look at to see the low spots.
    • CSWS stated that a digital exhibit (.PDF) showing the topography within the project limits can be placed on CSWS Cherokee/Scotland CIP website.
  • A citizen suggested putting up posters around area at "hot spots", such as library, churches, etc. to advertise future meetings.  The citizen noted that this type of notification may improve public meeting turn out. 

Workshop Discussions

  • Several property owners along Altondale Avenue presented the history of a previous SWS Maintenance project.  The project upsized a pipe system to a 42-inch, which now connects into a 24-inch pipe downstream.  The 24-inch pipe downstream was not replaced because one the property owners did not grant an easement.
  • One of the property owners adjacent to the 24-inch pipe, was previously agreeable to signing an easement.  However, he expressed being hesitant to agree to the future project improvements because he has added improvements along the existing pipe alignment and does not like        the disruption.  The citizen stated he would prefer CSWS investigate an alternative alignment in this area.
  • All of the Altondale property owners were surprised that the system (including the secondary system) was shown to be undersized, because the Maintenance project seemed to relieve the flooding in the area.
  • The property owner at 232 Cherokee expressed concern about the previous impacts of a private-development project on Fenton Place.  However, the impacts were remedied once construction was complete.  The owner also expressed concern that the proposed project would impact a large Willow Oak near the back of his property which is close to the existing drainage system.  The owner prefers an alternative alignment be investigated in this area.
  • A property owner stated concern regarding construction of improvements to the drainage systems surrounding the intersection of Providence Road and Laurel Avenue.  The owner stated that the amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the area is extremely high and construction would limit access to businesses and residents.  The owner also stated they had not witnessed flooding in this area and would prefer improvements not be considered with this project.
  • A property owner asked general questions regarding the flooding associated with Briar Creek, land development regulations, status of the Briar Creek Mitigation Plans.

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