Builders raise concerns about proposed Downers Grove flood control measures

A backyard in the 5300 block of Blodgett Avenue in Downers Grove is flooded Oct. 15, 2017, following hours of steady rain over the weekend. A plan to reduce flooding caused by new residential construction and renovations in Downers Grove has raised concerns among members of the building community who work in the village.[]

DOWNERS GROVE – A plan to reduce flooding caused by new residential construction and renovations in Downers Grove has raised concerns among members of the building community who work in the village.

The goal of the proposed ordinance is to control flooding yet maintain a permitting process that allows for new construction and renovation, Village Manager Dave Fieldman said at the May 8 Downers Grove Village Council meeting.

“It really is a trade-off and a challenge to try to balance the two project objectives of reducing the negative impacts of runoff while still allowing development activities to occur,” Fieldman said.

Soil that features high clay content coupled with sections of the community that have no stormwater infrastructure are major reasons why the village faces significant flooding problems, he said.

Several residents and contractors attended the meeting to voice concerns about the proposed flood control ordinances the Village Council has been considering for the past few months.

During recent meetings with village staff, members of the building community expressed reservations about the proposed ordinance.

They believe the village should construct a stormwater system funded by all residents and that the proposed ordinance will negatively impact property values throughout the village, Fieldman said. They also said the proposed ordinance would decrease new construction and renovations in the village.

“It is going to devastate building if this ordinance is passed,” said Dave Matthies, a Downers Grove contractor and resident.

Matthies said the heavy concentration of clay in the soil makes on-site detention ineffective.

“This is why you need to steer away from any on-site detention,” he said.

Matthies added the requirements proposed in the ordinance would unfairly impact residents who live south of 63rd Street, where modern stormwater controls are in place.

The village does not expect on-site detention to be a universal solution.

About 60 percent of basins will work as designed while 25 percent will perform at less than design capacity and 15 percent won’t work at all, Fieldman said during a presentation at the Village Council meeting.

The proposed regulations require stormwater detention for all new single-family homes and major additions. A major addition is defined as anything that expands the footprint of a house and alters 600 square feet of it.

Homes within 200 feet of the public drainage system would tie into the system. Homes not able to make the connection would be required to provide a larger stormwater detention, Fieldman said.

The proposed regulations represent significant enhancement over current regulations, which are limited to rain gardens and dry wells, or small storage basins not connected to the drainage system.

Mayor Martin Tully said feedback from residents and members of the construction community is valuable.

“We really want to get more input from the stakeholders,” Tully said. “This is another step in what I suspect will be a process that has some time to go before it will be resolved.”

He added finding the appropriate solution is a balancing act.

“The last thing we want to do is put something in place that costs a heck of a lot of money and doesn't’ work,” Tully said. “We don’t want to handicap our community in terms of its growth and desirability. We’re continuing to take input from all those who are interested in this topic.”

Commissioner Bob Barnett said he was concerned the ordinance places an unfair burden on some residents.

“I’m concerned and frankly not comfortable with that balance,” he said.