I read the following story in the Northwest Arkansas Times on Sunday but when I watched parts of the City Council's agenda session, I missed discussion of what I consider the most encouraging part of it. A bond on stormwater-rule enforcement.
Stormwater-bond plan in NW Arkansas Times on April 6, 2008
Bond proposal meant to protect city, neighbors
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Saturday, April 5, 2008
"A proposal that would lower maintenance bonds for public infrastructure for developers will likely go before the City Council next month.
At the same time, the Fayetteville council will consider adding a guarantee requirement from developers for stormwater management and erosion control.
"The Ordinance Review Committee voted this week to recommend that the city accept a 25 percent bond for two years instead of a 100 percent bond for one year for public improvements."
City staff recommended that change.
"The Ordinance Review Committee is also suggesting an addition to the maintenance bond ordinance to resolve some erosion control issues.
"For developments over five acres, a separate guarantee for stormwater management, drainage and erosion control would be required by the city.
"For those, the recommendation is a 100 percent guarantee for the total cost to install all of the erosion and sediment control plan.
"That guarantee has to stay in place until all the disturbed areas are stabilized and vegetation is established, Petrie said.
"The erosion control part of this helps us in these scenarios, like Aspen Ridge, where you might have these huge areas that became disturbed and somebody just decides to walk away from the project. You've got money in place to continue the maintenance of the erosion control or just go out and re-vegetate the property if you had to," he said.
I hope that I just was out of the room when the water-shed protection discussion occurred during Tuesday's agenda-setting session.
I don't like the idea of dropping any of the bonds to only 25 percent. Far too many developers remove trees and soil without the ability to guarantee completion of projects. Aspen Ridge is far from the only such example. It is simply the one that has been most publicized because so many people pass near it daily and so many people downstream are threatened by its effect.
I do, however, want to see a 100 percent bond on stormwater rules with at least two years allowed for collection. In fact the bond should last longer because significant rain such in 2004 and early 2008 doesn't come every year. The true effectiveness of stormwater-management work isn't obvious extended periods of heavy rain occur after weeks of frequent rain have saturated deep into the ground.
If Aspen Ridge had been completed on the most hopeful schedule, the bond period might have ended and the failure of the detention ponds and silt fences and vegetation restoration would just now be manifest.
In the case of Aspen Ridge, the original developers are getting off free.