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Cyrus / Douglas Public Meeting Minutes

May 10, 2005

Attendees:
Matt Gustis, Charlotte Storm Water Services               
Kate Labadorf, Charlotte Storm Water Services
Chris Matthews, HDR Engineering, Inc.
Ron Geiger, HDR Engineering, Inc.
Mike Knox, Charlotte Real Estate Services
George Massengale, Wray ROW Services, Inc.
Ron Gosey, Wray ROW Services, Inc.
Kelly Randal, Wray ROW Services, Inc.         
Joe Evans, Wray ROW Services, Inc.  
Melvin Williams, Way ROW Services, Inc.
Keith Pickett, Wray ROW Services, Inc.                                   
30 Property Owners

Topics Discussed:
Meeting presentation followed the agenda provided to those in attendance, and presented by Matt, Ron, and Chris. An overview of the information presented follows:

Introduction of the Project Team
Matt Gustis is the City's Project Manager, Kate Labadorf is the Senior Project Manager for the City, Ron Geiger is HDR's Project Manager (Engineering firm contracted for the design of the project), Chris Matthews is HDR's Senior Environmental Scientist, Mike Knox is in charge of the City's Real Estate Division, Keith Pickett is Wray Right-of-Way Services, Inc. Supervisor for the other gentlemen who will be agents on the project.

Purpose of the Public Meeting
Public meetings have been held in the past on this project to share with the neighborhood the progress of the planning and design phase, and to receive input on the proposed conceptual design improvements.  The purpose of this meeting was to present the final plans that illustrate the actual improvements proposed on each property.  In addition, this meeting served to explain the easement acquisition process for this project, providing an overview of what communication will occur with the real estate agents, and the need to obtain property owner approval of the work and the right for the contractor to perform this work on the private property.  Easement Exhibit Maps that were sent to each of the property owners ahead of the public meeting were discussed, explaining the definition of the different types of easements needed for this project.

Cyrus/Douglas Project Area Map

Typical Project Process
The typical evolution of a storm water capital improvement project was explained to those in attendance.  Matt Gustis explained that the City initially identifies areas that may be candidates for improvements through the information obtained from customer complaints, who call in using the City's hot line (704) 336-RAIN.  This information is evaluated in the process of determining the area for further evaluation.  A planning process is initiated which involves obtaining additional information from the neighborhood on existing problems associated with flooding, erosion, and building impact.  The planning process culminates in identifying a preferred option for solving many of the storm water problems in the study area.

The City will proceed through a design and permitting process to complete the development of plans for use by a construction contractor.  Local and state permits are obtained depending on the nature of the proposed improvements.  An easement acquisition process occurs when any of the work needs to be performed on private property.  This effort includes communicating with each property owner to explain the work proposed and obtaining their permission to perform the work.

The City will conduct a public bidding for construction contractor selection in accordance with the public bidding procedures.  Once a contractor is selected, the contractor will have a specific amount of time to complete their work.  A warranty period for the workmanship of the improvements begins once the improvements are complete and accepted by the City.  The improvements are protected under this warranty period for one year.  Any defects in workmanship during this period will be corrected by the contractor.

Improvements Identified for this project
Ron Geiger and Chris Matthews of HDR explained the project scope and the proposed improvements for the Cyrus Branch and the Douglas Branch.

The schedule of this project was accelerated due to the pending neighborhood improvement project (NIP) being considered by the City's engineering department (which is now currently under construction).  The intent was to perform the channel improvements shortly after the NIP work was complete, so as to not subject the neighborhood to a significant delay between projects, causing additional disruption in the neighborhood from the construction activity.  The planning process indicated that the extent of building flooding was not as severe as the channel erosion and bank instability.  The velocity of the storm water runoff from the watershed, over time, has caused Douglas Branch to erode both horizontally and vertically impacting existing vegetation, habitat, and property values.  Similar activity has been noted for the Cyrus Branch but to a lesser degree.  Therefore the goal of the project is to stabilize the stream as much as possible, and restore the channel to a more natural state for long term water quality benefits and habitat and property enhancement.

Additional discussion occurred on the details of the type of work proposed for a natural channel construction project.

Photographs of special stream enhancement structures were shown to illustrate the use of natural materials (such as boulders (Exhibit 3 - Rock Cross Vane), vegetation, and trees (Exhibit 5 - Root Wad Stabilization)) to realign the channel and stabilize its location.  


Some structural improvements are needed in the area of Green Oaks Drive to improve a road culvert to meet City design standards.

Easement Acquisition Process
Matt Gustis explained the process that the City will be using to communicate with the property owners regarding the easements needed for this project.  A handout was provided that explains the different types of easements.  Permanent and temporary easements are needed for this project.  Temporary easements are necessary to provide the contractor sufficient room to bring equipment and material to the area receiving the improvements.  These easements will terminate once the construction is complete.  Different types of permanent easements are required for this project.  Conservation easements are necessary along portions of Douglas Branch to maintain the environmental standards that will be placed on this stream by State regulations.  The conservation easements put restrictions on what can be done within the easement area.  These include construction of any temporary or permanent structures, introduction of non-native vegetation, and unauthorized dumping or removal of vegetation.  Other portions of the project will need permanent storm drainage easements more typical of the City's projects.  Permanent easements allow the City to come back in the future and perform maintenance on the stream channel.  Permanent storm drainage easements are less restrictive than conservation easements; however, put restrictions on what permanent structures can be built within the easement area.

Property Owner Comments/Questions
General property owner questions and comments were addressed with the group prior to breaking the group into two areas to review the detailed plans and answering specific questions about each property.

Following the presentation, a question and answer session was conducted to field general questions. Specific issues and questions regarding individual properties were fielded during a breakout session at one of three locations at the church where property owners could view the preliminary drawings, talk with the real estate agent and a representative of either HDR or CSWS.  The following is a list of questions that were asked during the Q/A session:

1. How long will it take to obtain the permits? Local erosion control permits usually take 60 to 90 days. State/Federal environmental permits may take 6 to 9 months.

2. Will the conservation easements allow a greenway to be installed in the future? No, greenways are specifically prohibited by the State within conservation easements

3. How long will it take to construct? It is projected that the entire project will take approximately a year and a half to complete.  The project will be constructed in three phases. Only one phase will be constructed each time.

4. What is the start date? Given the uncertainty in the time to obtain the easements and the permits and exact date has not been determined.  It is estimated to start in Spring 2007.

5. Will some of the trees be preserved? Yes, the design has attempted to maintain as many trees as possible.  Also, we propose to plant some trees and vegetation along the Douglas Branch upstream of Briar Creek within the conservation easement.

6. What type of vegetation will be installed on the banks? Vegetation adapted for life along stream banks.  Species would include Silky dogwood, Silky willow, Elderberry, Tag alder, Buttonbush, and Beautyberry, among others.

7. There is concern on the groundcover used and its maintenance.  Consideration will be made to keep the seeding density to the minimum required for soil stability to prevent the ground cover stands from becoming too thick.  Also, a seed mixture that includes ground cover other than grasses will be used.  This will thin out the ground cover and provide for seasonal flowering plants.  Species such as red clover, white clover and bidens species will augment grasses as ground cover.

8. Who is responsible for maintenance? The City will as part of their channel maintenance program evaluate the channels for needed maintenance and will perform periodic maintenance.

9. What are the benefits to the individual property owner? Some properties will have direct benefits including protection from further loss of property and re-establishment of lost vegetation. The overall environmental health of the streams will improve, thereby improving water quality, habitat, general aesthetics, which can preserve or enhance property value.  A long term benefit will be seen by the community in assisting in improving the overall water quality downstream.

10. Can the City change the intended use of the easement in the future? No. Additional uses would need property owner approval through the issuance of new easements.

11. What happens if we don't sign?  If a property owner is unwilling to sign the easement agreement, the City will initially evaluate the property to determine whether or not it is critical to the project.  If it is not, the property can be eliminated from the project.  If the property is critical, the City will evaluate individual concerns and possibly issue a special provision or eliminate individual portions of the work.  If the property owner is unwilling to sign the easement agreement and not willing to negotiate, the City has the authority to proceed with condemnation.

12. Was an EA required for this project? People are concerned with the environmental impact of this project.  An EA was not required on this project.  As part of the permitting process, background information and environment assessments are considered during the planning and design process. The long term effect of this project will be an improvement in the environment.

13. Will improvements address the problems created by the Wal-Mart development and its runoff? Improvements directly on the developed portion of the Wal-Mart Site are not included in this project.  The City will investigate the existing detention pond as a follow-up to this concern.

14. Is the City aware of a dump site across the Douglas Branch near Pinecrest Avenue? What is the status? The storm water staff present at the meeting were not aware of this situation, but will look into this concern and pass the information to the appropriate city or county department.

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