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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