Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Flood Mitigation Plan Public Engagement Session

29. June 2005 • Juliew
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TODAY! Wednesday, June 29 at 7:00 p.m.

The City of Ann Arbor Systems Planning Unit invites you to come and share your opinions about potential mitigation activity in the City’s floodplains. “Mitigation is defined as any action taken before, during or after a disaster to permanently eliminate or reduce risks to human life and property from natural, technical or societal hazards.” (From the City of Ann Arbor Hazard Mitigation Plan, November 2004.)

Council Chambers
Ann Arbor City Hall
100 N. Fifth Ave.

Sorry for the very late post. Hopefully anyone interested will be able to attend.

UPDATE, 2 July, Murph:

Jerry Hancock, of the City Public Services department, says,

We had a fairly low turnout for the meeting Wednesday, so we will likely hold another meeting the later half of July.

In the meantime, if you would like to see what we are up to, you can view an early power point at about the project at the City web site:

Also the presentation from Wednesday night will be rebroadcast on CTN:
Sun., 7/3 at 4:00 p.m.
Fri., 7/8 at 10:00 a.m.

  1. Sounds interesting; tragically I’m swamped with other commitments this evening.

    Hopefully somebody can go (or catch it on CTN?) and provide a little commentary here?
       —Murph    Jun. 29 '05 - 08:36PM    #
  2. I’m planning to go and can give a synopsis later. It had very little publicity as far as I can tell. There is nothing on the City’s web site. I’m not even sure it will be televised. You would think this would be fairly important.

    It may be one of those things where the City really doesn’t want input, but isrequired to have a public meeting and notify neighborhood groups.
       —Juliew    Jun. 29 '05 - 08:52PM    #
  3. A synopsis of the meeting held Tuesday:

    Jerry Hancock and Paul Lippen were the two presenters from the City. The format was about 30 minutes of presentation, followed by a questionnaire explanation and fill-out time, followed by general discussion. This meeting was to fulfill a requirement for funding from FEMA for a Flood Mitigation Plan (this is the third study currently outstanding—Calthorpe, FEMA remapping, and the Flood Mitigation Plan). The funding requires three areas: Technical, Planning & Policy, and Public Engagement. This was the public engagement section.

    It was actually a very interesting and informative discussion. Unfortunately, there were only eleven people who attended—most of them the usual suspects. Bob Dascola, Margaret Wong and Sonia Schmerl, three people from my neighborhood, Eppie Potts (the only person who attended from the Planning Commission, the City Council, or the DDA), and two other couples, both of whom had to leave early. When I commented that there was not much notification and that there was nothing on the City web site, Jerry Hancock said that unfortunately, they did not have enough time. Hmmm.

    They are planning to post the PowerPoint presentation on the city web site. There was some interesting information about floodplains in general and the floodplains in Ann Arbor in particular. Allen Creek was the main focus because there are many more structures in the Allen Creek floodplain than any of the other floodplains in the city (1409 parcels, 879 of them residential). 100% of the National Flood Insurance Program claims filed in Ann Arbor have came from the Allen Creek floodplain (very low numbers though—only 18 claims have been filed, but Hancock pointed out that this is in large part because most people don’t actually carry flood insurance. It is now required to get a mortgage in a floodplain, but this was not true until 1996).

    One thing that I didn’t know was that most of Ann Arbor does not fall under the state guidelines for floodplain regulation because the drainage areas cover fewer than two square miles. One of the questions on the questionnaire asked if citizens thought Ann Arbor should abide by the state regulations even though they are not required to do so. Another question asked if we thought the city should buy up all the parcels in the floodplain (either voluntarily or as a taking) in order to prevent building in these areas. It seemed an ironic question to me given the three-site plan, which I tried to point out, but Hancock neatly sidestepped it.
       —Juliew    Jul. 1 '05 - 03:41PM    #
  4. Was there anything said about the watershed outside of the floodway/plain? (That area being important from a flood prevention point-of-view. . .)
       —Murph.    Jul. 1 '05 - 03:57PM    #
  5. Murph, there wasn’t much said about the general watershed. Since the grant is for a mitigation project within the City of Ann Arbor (presumably to reduce FEMA costs?), the floodplain areas were the focus.
       —Juliew    Jul. 1 '05 - 04:28PM    #
  6. That’s about what I expected; heaven forbid we look at where the water’s coming from…
       —Murph.    Jul. 1 '05 - 04:56PM    #
  7. Julie: Jerry and Paul gave the same presentation to the Environmental Commission at our May meeting (or was it April?) It was televised. Jerry’s excuse isn’t acceptable, but I do believe they want people to see the presentation and to get feedback.

    I’m with you, Murph, on mitigation outside the floodplain (upstream). Roofs, roads, parking lots, and other impermeable surfaces should be looked at if we’re serious about not only flood prevention but water quality.

    Did you hear if there will be another presentation, Julie? Jerry had said they were planning several more (of the same, just at different sites.)
       —Steve Bean    Jul. 1 '05 - 05:12PM    #
  8. Steve, I agree that Jerry and Paul actually do want people to give feedback. They seemed a bit taken aback that there weren’t more people there the other night. But I thought their excuse was kind of lame. If they only notified people of the meeting a few days before and it wasn’t publicized anywhere, why didn’t they postpone the meeting by a week? It is especially disappointing to know they gave this talk two months ago and couldn’t get the presentation or notification up on the City’s web site.

    My sense was that they were now going to move forward with analyzing and finding a direction from results of the questionnaires (did they distribute them at the Environmental Commission meeting too?) and have the second phase of public meetings in response to that. I really hope that the answers from eleven people don’t determine the direction of the Flood Mitigation Project for the City! Since the report is due in September, they are on the fast track now.

    While I agree that general watershed questions are important, there is only so much effect the City of Ann Arbor actually has on outlying areas. I think the City has to clean up their own act first before going outside. Take green roofs: the only green roof in the downtown area is on a private garage and the Mallett’s Creek Library is the only “public” building I know of with a green roof. How about floodplain construction: we built the new Y and are talking about putting a parking structure in a floodway. The footing drain disconnection program is good, but that is, pardon the pun, a drop in the bucket. Until the City shows some action regarding flood prevention and water quality, I don’t see how they can look outside the City limits.
       —Juliew    Jul. 1 '05 - 05:49PM    #
  9. While I agree that general watershed questions are important, there is only so much effect the City of Ann Arbor actually has on outlying areas. I think the City has to clean up their own act first before going outside.

    The Allen Creek watershed is, I believe, entirely within the City . That’s why I’m thinking we oughta look at the whole thing, since we do control it, and it is our act (and only our act).
       —Murph.    Jul. 1 '05 - 06:02PM    #
  10. OK Murph, good point. There may be some collateral watershed management discussion because the Allen Creek watershed is entirely in the city. However, the discussion the other night definitely focused on mitigation of damage caused to buildings within the floodplain. Again, because this is sponsored by FEMA and the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), I think that is what they have been asked to do. Sounds kinda like the DDA and the TSP, huh?
       —Juliew    Jul. 1 '05 - 06:21PM    #
  11. Yup, it’s all ours.

    There are many simple things we can do that would decrease stormwater runoff and increase water quality even more through relatively inexpensive measures. (Dang, now I have to back that up somehow.)

    Beyond rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs and the like, we can look at the parking lots along Stadium for opportunities.

    I was at Vets’ Park during Wednesday’s thunderstorm and watched as hundreds of gallons of sand-laden water rushed into the drain at the corner of the gravel parking lot. (FYI, suspended sediment increases the strength of flood waters.) Pitiful.

    One fun way to ponder this: If the drain opening nearest you were to disappear, what would you do to mitigate for that loss?

    I’ve suggested to the HRWC and the Ecology Center that they set up an ‘Adopt-A-Drain’ program to get citizens to monitor what’s going on with the drain openings in their neighborhoods—toxic spills, leaf litter plugs, construction siltation, etc. No interest. Laughter even. Pitiful.

    (Bringing in a thought from another thread: Is a Cool City one where you can swim in the river in the summer without getting sick?)
       —Steve Bean    Jul. 1 '05 - 06:26PM    #
  12. Allen Creek watershed entirely within the city? Surely not literally! That area is dotted with dozens of little islands of Ann Arbor Township.

    If you’re looking for clean, reasonable, understandable political boundaries, don’t look to Ann Arbor. I doubt there’s a longer or crazier city limits in the entire state.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jul. 1 '05 - 06:51PM    #
  13. But won’t the Ann Arbor Twp islands be mostly cleaned up over the next several years? And, fine, so it’s not “entirely”; it’s 98%.
       —Murph    Jul. 3 '05 - 03:06PM    #