Avondale Estates City Commission considers expanding stormwater service responsibilityAvondale Estates City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission, at its Jan. 26 meeting, continued discussing the stormwater extent of service proposals. The board did not vote on the proposals, but the consensus was to clearly define what infrastructure the city is responsible for, and work out an easement agreement with the property owners on Hess Drive.
The city is working with Brown and Caldwell to develop the stormwater extent of service policy, and two extent of service options were previously presented to the board.
“Extent of service is referring to exactly what stormwater infrastructure is the city’s responsibility as opposed to the responsibility of private property owners with the understanding that all stormwater our system handles includes some water that came off of public property and some that came off of private property,” Assistant City Manager Paul Hanebuth said at the Jan. 12 City Commission meeting.
The policy would allow the city to be more consistent when making decision around stormwater infrastructure, it would expedite repairs, and it would help the city plan for future budgetary needs.
Under the city’s current ordinance related to stormwater systems, the city is responsible for infrastructure that’s between rights of way, on city-owned properties and where there’s maintenance easements expressly recorded as part of the property’s deed, Hanebuth previously said.
“What’s not included in the existing ordinance is infrastructure on either side of the right of way, privately-owned detention ponds that might be part of a development agreement, for instance, and extensions to the stormwater system that somebody put in somewhere along the line without getting a permit,” Hanebuth said.
At the Jan. 26 meeting, the commissioners were in agreement that they favored option one, which would mean the city is responsible for all conveyances intersecting public rights of way and city-owned property. It would not include conveyances along roads owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation. With this option, the city would be responsible for about 15,600 linear feet of stormwater conveyances, which is 227 pipes and channels.
This option would be for 30 years worth of replacement. The policy would go from 2021 to 2050.
“Technically, this is a little bit more extensive than what the current ordinance allows,” Hanebuth previously said. “In a practical sense, as far as what the city would actually be required to repair here in the real world, there’s really not much difference between this and the existing ordinance except that it adds additional clarity and defines exactly what’s the city’s responsibility.”
According to the city’s stormwater management code, a stormwater conveyance is “natural or constructed stormwater conduits, features, facilities or best management practices designed or used for the collection, conveyance or treatment of stormwater through open or closed drainage systems …”
This could include pipes, ditches, swales, roads with drainage systems, rights of way, storm drains, and detention ponds, among other things.
Option two would include all conveyances intersecting public rights of way and city-owned property, as well as all connected downstream conveyances to detention ponds or outfalls. This also does not include conveyances along roads owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation. With this option, the city would be responsible for about 20,000 linear feet of stormwater conveyances and 277 total stormwater conveyances.
To go with option one, however, the city would have to increase its stormwater fee by 4.5% every year to keep the city out of debt at the end of that 30-year period. Option two would cause the city to increase the fee by 6.5% every year. Hanebuth also outlined a pay-as-you-go method, which would result in a yearly assessment of fees based on the amount of work the city undertakes during any given year, City Manager Patrick Bryant said.
Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher said he leaned toward option one, which would put the city more in line with Decatur and DeKalb County. But he would like to do something to address the stormwater infrastructure on Hess Drive.
Along Hess Drive, there is a channel running through yards and driveways are built over it. The channel serves as an important piece of stormwater infrastructure.
“What I would like to do though, because I feel like Hess [Drive] is a separate issue and sticks out on its own, I’d like for us to consider entering into an easement agreement with the homeowners where it’s specific about what they’re responsible for and what the city’s responsible for,” Fisher said.
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